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Protesters rally against rail cuts

Unions and passenger groups will stage a protest at Parliament to warn the Government against cutting rail jobs, increasing fares and closing ticket offices.

Rail unions said they feared ministers were preparing to implement the McNulty rail review, published in May, saying it would lead to the closure of more than 600 ticket offices, de-staffing stations, cutting the number of guards on trains and increasing fares even further.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, said: "McNulty represents the biggest threat to our railways since privatisation."

He continued: "Staff and passengers have a common interest in resisting an attack that would wipe out safety-critical jobs, de-staff trains and stations and jack up fares in the name of private profit. We all have a stake in stopping this carve-up dead in its tracks."

Manuel Cortes, assistant general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association, said: "The McNulty proposals will worsen passenger services, turn some rail stations into no-go areas and hit taxpayers in the pocket as a consequence of adding to the already rising unemployment queues. They make no sense and are driven by political dogma."

Aslef leader Keith Norman said: "If the McNulty proposals are implemented the railways will become the rich man's toy that former transport secretary Philip Hammond predicted. Speculators will benefit at the expense of the travelling public, tax-payers and staff."

Frances O'Grady, the TUC's deputy general secretary, said: "With rail passengers being hit by price hikes and public subsidy increasing, the escalating costs of our dysfunctional privatised rail industry must be addressed.

"The Government has a clear choice. It can follow Europe with more efficient and cheaper rail systems under public ownership, or it can follow the McNulty report, cutting jobs and services, increasing the break-up of our rail network, and giving more power to private train operating companies.

"If the Government follows McNulty, our railways will be even more skewed towards the interests of shareholders.

"With three quarters of franchises up for renewal in the next five years, bringing rail services in-house would be a painless process. Europe shows us that integrated, publicly-owned railways eliminate the massive costs and inefficiency of the privatised rail market where shareholders, consultants, executives and lawyers are the winners."


From Belfast Telegraph