NSSN 167 – 5 November 2013: 20th anniversary of rail privatisation
On 5 November 1993 John Major’s Tories passed the Railways Act to privatise
British Rail, opening an era of public transport chaos and fragmentation in
Rail privatisation is a grotesque ‘corporate welfare’ binge for a herd of
gruesome Fat Cats, some well-known like Richard Branson, others less so like
the shadowy hedge funds and banks who trouser ‘rolling stock leasing charges’
for trains already bought and paid for by public investment.
This month, on the 20th anniversary, RMT demands an end to rail privatisation
– legalised robbery paid for by tax scams and extortionate rail fares.
In 2012-13 alone, private train operators and rolling stock companies paid out
dividends of OVER £359 MILLION.
In 18 years since the sell-off of train services in 1995, OVER £3.5 BILLION in
shareholder dividends has been paid out by private train operators alone.
UK taxpayers subsidise this racket with huge sums in corporate welfare. Track
access charges – charges private train operators pay to Network Rail to use
rail infrastructure – halved from £3.19 billion in 1994 to £1.59 billion in
2012 to be replaced by public sector subsidies of £1.6 BILLION PER YEAR.
Meanwhile, foreign state-owned operators now control 65% of Britain’s train
operators, using extortionate fares and huge taxpayer subsidies in the UK to
underwrite services in France, Germany and Netherlands.
The EU, which designed Britain’s rail privatisation disaster, is now flogging
rail services to privateers across the EU. In November 2012, an EU directive
established a “single European railway area” in “a competitive market” by
compulsory competitive tendering of rail services. A ‘4th’ EU rail
liberalisation package next year will make ‘franchising’ of rail passenger
services compulsory across all EU member states.
But this catalogue of corporate corruption and neoliberal dogma has helped to
create RMT’s fighting trade union response to rail privatisation.
As today’s illegitimate coalition government, privatises the Probation Service
and Royal Mail, RMT is a reminder to all trade unionists and public service
users that as long as the working class maintains independent, class combative
organisation, we will always have the ability to fight back against job and
service cuts and to rebuild a publicly-owned alternative to the privatisation