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RMT pledges “fight” against Northern and TPE franchise plans

Rail union RMT has pledged to mobilise an all-out-fight to “stop the destruction of jobs, services and safety” on the Northern Rail and Trans Pennine Express (TPE) franchises.

This comes after the government launched a public consultation on the future of the two rail companies earlier this week. The DfT has also launched two prospectuses outlining the details of the franchises to prospective bidders, and an OJEU notice, with expressions of interest now being sought from the market for either or both of these franchises, with the contracts commencing in February 2016.

However, RMT has listed a catalogue of issues that it will be mobilising an industrial, political and public campaign around, including plans to potentially have driver only operation introduced on both franchises; reducing ticket office opening times; cuts to “back room and support functions” staff; increasing fares; and the possibility of “alliancing” between franchisees and Network Rail.

RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is clear as day that the full force of the McNulty cuts programme is to be unleashed on Northern and TPE in an exercise that would slash jobs, destroy safety and axe ticket offices and other passenger services while allowing fares and profits to soar through the roof.

“RMT is gearing up for a political, industrial and public campaign to stop this act of savage vandalism to rail services across the north and into Scotland dead in its tracks.”

However, transport minister Stephen Hammond said on the public consultation that there have been great improvements in the railways nationally and regionally since privatisation.

“We have seen record growth in passenger numbers, achieved much higher levels of passenger satisfaction and one of the best safety records in Europe. This growth has been particularly strong in the north of England with both franchises experiencing greater numbers of passengers than predicted when the franchises were last let,” he said.

“We want to continue to build on this and to deliver excellent railway services for passengers across the region; providing value for money for both passengers and taxpayers. We are confident that our developing partnership with Rail North will help to bring a stronger local focus to the two franchises.”

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