HS2

25.07.08

RMT welcomes MPs' call to stop dodging high-speed rail decision

Britain's Biggest rail union has welcomed a report by MPs which urges the government to stop dodging the decision to build the high-speed rail links the economy and environment desperately need and to develop a "genuine 30-year strategy" for the industry.

RMT welcomed the Transport Select Committee's call for a "stronger and bolder vision for the long-term future of the railways", and its view that Network Rail should bring more of its strategic resources back in-house.

The report, published today, identifies serious shortcomings in the government's long-term rail strategy - it describes the recent White Paper as a missed opportunity - as well as in the management of Network Rail, especially following the engineering overruns of last winter.

"The committee is absolutely spot-on that investment in high-speed lines and electrification is crucial, that the 1,300 new carriages announced recently are welcome but not enough, and that the government is being over-cautious," RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.

"It is right, too, that the government should be encouraging people out of cars and aeroplanes and onto trains - and that must involve a fundamental shift away from never-ending road-building and airport expansion.

"To achieve that shift it must also ensure that rail is affordable, and the committee is again right to oppose the deliberate transfer of the cost burden to passengers - especially when the private sector is draining hundreds of millions of pounds out of the industry every year.

"The committee's call for Network Rail to bring all strategic resources back in-house will strike a chord with rail workers who know there remains far too much reliance on contractors.

"Its call for a programme to develop and maintain the skills that are crucial to the industry is also welcome, as is its call for a centralised train-procurement strategy that will ensure a future for Britain's rolling-stock industry.

"The committee is right to highlight that communications within the industry are 'seriously deficient' thanks to fragmentation and the separate ownership of tracks and trains.

"Our view remains that the bold vision and proposals put forward by the select committee will only be achieved if the current fragmentation of the industry is ended and it is re-integrated as a publicly accountable and fully publicly controlled whole," Bob Crow said.

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com

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