Union hits out at £1.7bn budget cuts

Wigan Wallgate Station
Wigan Wallgate Station

WIGAN railwaymen claimed today that new Government cuts will “hammer” jobs and threaten train safety.

The Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) branch is warning that £1.7bn of cuts to Network Rail budgets from next year, announced by the Office of Rail Regulation this morning and dressed up as “efficiency savings”, would spark off further savage cuts to jobs and maintenance, compromising safety and reliability and “making a nonsense” of the Office of Rail Regulator’s core objectives.

The RMT claims that if the profits and subsidies “sucked out of the rail system by the private train operators” were instead reinvested in capacity, staffing and infrastructure, delays and cancellations would be reduced, more trains could be run, the repairs and modernisation backlog could be tackled.

North West RMT regional council secretary Steve Shaw said: “Demanding £1.7bn of cuts from Network Rail threatens jobs, maintenance and safety in the same week that the storm shutdown showed that the railways are already short of staff and paying the price for a backlog of maintenance that leaves services at constant threat of total breakdown.

“If the profits and subsidies sucked out of the railways by the private companies were instead retained within the central pot under one publicly owned rail body there would be more than enough money to employ extra staff, tackle the shelved repairs and modernisation works, phase out the lethal level crossings and increase capacity and reliability.

“The government are flying in the face of all logic by retaining the shambolic and fragmented privatised rail model that was set up twenty years ago next week.”

The Government insists the package of cuts are vital to help stablise the economy and cut back the deficit.