Congress condemns the Government’s chaotic mismanagement of public transport in Britain, which is damaging our economy and our ability to meet our carbon emission reduction targets.
There could be no better example of the Government’s destructive policies than their approach to the Railways and London Underground disputes where the rail minister has admitted the cost of settling the rail disputes would have been less than the billions lost from the cost of the disputes to the economy and from the bankrolling of private train companies.
Congress was disappointed but unsurprised when the DfT delayed plans to complete the Birmingham to Crewe leg of HS2 along with the work to connect it to London Euston. These delays have led to job losses for those working on the construction and will cost the taxpayer more than completing HS2 as previously planned.
A further delay to a much-needed new high speed line which will unlock capacity on the West Coast Mainline, improve passenger services in the North of England and additionally enable rail freight to grow. The delay is a failure of yet another Conservative Government to properly invest in our rail network.
Low wages, fatigue, attacks on workers’ terms and conditions and lack of support for buses by the Government has led to a national shortage of bus drivers.
Lack of appropriate funding has been further evidenced by Network Rail’s plans for spending in 2024-2029, which is insufficient to renew core assets meaning that Network Rail is already planning speed restrictions to enable the safe operation of trains on aging infrastructure.
This underinvestment is occurring during a climate emergency where a properly funded rail network, alongside investment in electrification, is needed to help avert catastrophe.
Congress is appalled that mismanagement has been driven by the Government’s transport austerity and reforms that will make our railways less accessible and available to millions, including fewer services, the de-staffing of trains and stations, loss of engineering skills, and the closure or nearly all rail ticket offices in England.
Congress commends our magnificent rail and tube workers who have repeatedly smashed anti-union ballot thresholds and taken action over the last year and beyond to defend public transport.
Congress believes that as well as providing continuing solidarity one of the biggest tributes we can pay to their struggle is to effectively campaign to achieve,
- An integrated, accessible, publicly owned and accountable rail, bus and ferry network
- A massive growth in public transport use, delivered by a huge increase in funding, such as outlined in the TUC / transport unions commissioned report “Public Transport fit for the climate emergency.”
- Ending the damaging outsourcing of vital public transport functions, such as rail cleaning, maintenance and engineering.
- A just transition with full worker participation to a sustainable transport system based on secure jobs, good wages and decent working conditions
- A massive investment in a skilled transport workforce for a just transition and decarbonisation as part of a National Climate Service.
- Electrifying all of the rail network.
Congress calls on the General Council to:
1. Lobby the Government to complete the original scope of HS2 in full;
2. Lobby the Government for the investment needed by Network Rail to be able to renew and maintain core assets to keep our rail network safe and reliable;
3. Champion public transport and rail freight when highlighting how to tackle the climate emergency;
4. Continue to support ASLEF’s ‘Invest in Rail’ and ‘Rail Electrification’ campaigns.
Supporters: Unite and TSSA