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Union attacks ‘rotten’ rail franchising system

RMT claims rail operators are ‘profiting’ from delays because of the cold weather.

MPs are being urged to raise in Parliament how much money train companies have been given in compensation for the weather-related transport chaos.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) criticised the system under which Network Rail will have to pay out to private rail companies.

The whole racket on our railways was rigged from the off by the Tories Mick Cash, RMT union

General secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT is demanding to know how much the taxpayer has shovelled in to‎ the pockets of the private train companies during the adverse weather over the past week under our rotten rail franchising system.

“The whole racket on our railways was rigged from the off by the Tories so that the profits are privatised and the risks are carried by the public.

“It’s a scandal that has led to a bail-out culture on our railways which is being exploited by the train operators while passengers are freezing in luggage racks on broken-down trains.

“RMT will be raising this issue with the unions’ parliamentary group and we are demanding answers and not the usual hot air we have come to expect from Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and this Government.”

A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group said: “These payments are overseen by the rail regulator which says that they keep costs down for taxpayers and farepayers, and they are completely separate from the money customers rightly receive for delays.

“The payments compensate train operators for lost revenue when fewer people travel due to disruption and they encourage rail companies to work together to improve punctuality.”

An Office of Rail and Road spokesman said: “The performance regime incentivises Network Rail and operators to keep unplanned disruptions to a minimum, and reduces the risk to train companies of operating and investing in the industry, thereby reducing the cost to taxpayers.

“In contrast to the passenger compensation regime, performance regime payments are not payable for particular instances of disruption.

“Instead, the performance regime enables operators to plan their businesses on the basis of an expected level of performance – if performance is better than expected then operators pay a bonus to Network Rail, whereas if it is worse than expected then Network Rail compensates them.

“The principle of the regime is that operators should be no better or worse off as a result of changes in the performance of Network Rail or other operators.

“The sums that Network Rail has paid out in the performance regime in recent years reflect the fact that they are performing worse than expected. Had they been performing better than expected, then
those operators would be paying Network Rail.

“Any decision to ring-fence payments received by franchised operators under this scheme is a matter for franchise authorities.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “Across the country, staff from Network Rail and train operators worked hard through the freezing weather to maintain and restore services where possible and keep passengers informed throughout this difficult period.

“Train companies are compensated when there is unplanned disruption to the tracks that stops people travelling. This helps drive more reliable train services and encourages Network Rail to get journeys back on track as soon as possible.

“Our new rail strategy will mean train operators working more closely with those responsible for the track to reduce disruption and focus on giving passengers the best possible services, as well as better informing people of their right to compensation when things go wrong.”

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