The Tyne and Wear Metro is a public-sector success story and should be kept that way, delegates at the annual conference of Britain’s biggest rail union insisted today.
As RMT’s AGM called on the government to implement Labour policy on public ownership, RMT general secretary Bob Crow and Northern TUC secretary Kevin Rowan issued a joint plea for an end to the threat to fragment and privatise the northeast’s Metro network.
Letters sent today to Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly and Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive (Nexus) director-general Bernard Garner point out that the Metro is already achieving record levels of punctuality and ridership.
The letters express the concern that funding for a welcome upgrade of the network has been made conditional on splitting up and privatising the Metro’s operations and infrastructure.
Nexus bulletins indicate that the government has insisted on the break-up, overruling the PTE’s preferred option of maintaining Metro as a ‘vertically integrated’ railway.
“The model now being proposed for the Metro is in danger of repeating the mistakes of railway privatisation,” Bob Crow and Kevin Rowan say.
“Safety will be threatened as the Metro will be fragmented into different sectors, meaning less effective control and private companies cutting corners to save money.
“Fragmentation will lead to a less efficient, more expensive railway which is why Nexus were originally opposed to the break up of the Metro and why we remain opposed to it.
“Large amounts of fare revenue and public subsidy will be used to pay dividends to shareholders instead of being used to improve the Metro for the benefit of passengers and the wider community in the North East.
“And of course Metro workers’ pensions, jobs and conditions will be under threat as the private sector tries to maximise profits at the expense of Metro workers,” the letters say.
This article first appeared on Socialist Appeal.
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This post was written by Rick Grogan