A hard-hitting report from MPs has described the chaos and underfunding on Britain's privatised rail system. The report, published today, shows cash being flung at London services whilst outside the capital billions of pounds are being drained from the network to fill shareholders’ pockets, with local and regional rail services condemned to “second class” categories. The report says this “cannot be allowed to continue.”
The Commons transport committee reveal that cash is being pumped into London’s rail infrastructure to the tune of £2,500 a head, while in the hard-pressed north-east the figure is a paltry £5 a head.
The Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said the only answer is the dumping of the “millstone of private greed” from the industry.
Committee chairwoman Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, said: “Far less money is spent on transport projects outside London than in the capital. 2This inequality has gone on for too long and has to change.”
She said competition “will not necessarily help regions get a fairer share of transport funding and could make the situation worse.”
Ms Ellman added that the government’s focus on using competition to bring in private funding for projects “could
disadvantage the regions, where there tends to be less private-sector money available compared with London.”
RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash said: “The biggest block to the massive investment that our transport services are crying out for is the continuing impact of privatisation which not only drains billions of pounds away in shareholder profits but also fragments and divides the industry, making planning and co-operation a nightmare.
“Until the millstone of private greed is lifted from our necks our industry will never be able to deliver what the public clearly want — cohesive, safe and modern transport services run in the public interest, not for the benefit of spivs and speculators looking for a fast buck.”
Pat Harrington, general secretary of the Solidarity union, said:
"Privatising rail has been a disaster on so many different levels. It is time we brought back British Rail."