Trades unionists and campaigners were out at East Croydon and other railway stations around the country this morning calling for a publicly owned rail network that puts passengers before profits.
Britain has the most expensive rail fares in Europe, with those using the London commuter network suffering year-on-year above-inflation fare increases while being expected to endure a litany of poor service issues.
Glen Hart, who is standing in the General Election in Croydon North for the Trades Union and Socialist Coalition, was supporting those leafleting passing commuters on their way into London.
“Every year, privatisation wastes more than £1billion – with money leaking out in areas such as shareholder dividends, corporation profits and costs arising from fragmentation of our railways,” Hart said. “In the last financial year, taxpayers contributed £3.8 billion to the rail networks, while private train companies paid out £183 million in dividends to shareholders. We have the most expensive fares in Europe.”
East Croydon Station is managed by Southern, a subsidiary of Govia – a joint venture between French company Keolis, which is majority owned by the French State railway and Go Ahead. In September 2014, Govia took control of Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern Railways, which together make up one-third of. England’s rail passenger network. Under the new contract, Govia and Go Ahead will be allowed to reduce the number of guards on trains, introduce driverless trains and cut station staff.
“For years now, fares have been increasing while services have been declining,” said Hart, the Thornton Heath resident who is a member of the RMT rail union.
“The devastation of privatisation on the railways was enough for London Underground unions to say never again. However, despite all our fighting efforts they still keep coming for a bigger slice of the cake. That’s why London Underground workers like myself have come out to support this fight to bring national railways back into public ownership.
“A publicly owned rail system is affordable and accessible for all. Croydon residents travelling by train should be able to access a rail network where people come before profit.”
The Action for Rail campaign, of which this morning’s lobbying was a part, involves the TUC and it’s affiliated unions with members working on the railways – ASLEF, RMT, TSSA and Unite. It aims is to work with passenger groups, rail campaigners and environmentalists to campaign against cuts to rail services and staffing and to promote the case for integrated, national rail under public ownership.
The protest at East Croydon was one of over 40 taking place across the country today, while a further 60 community protests are planned for tomorrow, taking the theme “Don’t be Fooled by the Franchises”. More details can be found here.
- Inside Croydon Events: for dates and links to what’s happening in and around Croydon, updated daily, click here
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