Congress notes the paramount role our railway has played during the Covid-19 pandemic in ensuring that key workers and goods are able to be transported across the country. Yet already government is attacking our heroes with the prime minister making driverless trains a condition of London transport funding and reports that rail funding will be linked to staff cuts.
Congress pays tribute to the key workers of the coronavirus pandemic who, in protecting our lives and livelihoods risked and sadly lost their lives.
Congress is concerned the pandemic has increased car use at public transport’s expense, which will be disastrous for our climate and health, as raised carbon emissions increase vulnerability to diseases, with evidence air pollution is a factor in higher rates of coronavirus deaths.
Congress agrees that to stop the coronavirus crisis accelerating the climate crisis we need to massively expand transport operating subsidy, capital investment and capacity to make bus, metro and rail passenger and freight services more frequent, affordable, attractive and safer to use.
Congress believes that our railway will play an essential role in our low-carbon economic recovery. Investment in infrastructure will create jobs, whilst making low-carbon transport even more efficient.
Congress notes that the government is reviewing the EMAs and considering the recommendations of the unpublished Williams Rail Review, potentially as a way to introduce concessions like those run by TfL.
The EMAs and the concession model that the transport secretary has said he is looking to introduce gives government more control over our railway than the franchise system. However, this new model also means that almost all financial risk sits with the taxpayer whilst private companies are still able to take profit out of our system.
Even before coronavirus, many TOCs were dependent on direct and indirect tax-payer subsidies that guaranteed regular profits with some, like LNER and Northern, already back in public ownership.
Congress believes that the pandemic has shown how the dogma of rail privatisation falls apart at a time of national emergency when government intervention becomes necessary.
Congress believes that the time is right to eliminate the leech of the private sector altogether from the delivery of rail services by taking our trains back into public ownership. Congress calls on the General Council to make the case via a campaign of political and public engagement to influence the government in its review.
Congress will campaign for:
i. no transport austerity: protect and improve rail, tube, bus, maritime, transport and offshore jobs, pay and conditions
ii. stronger safety standards and stronger powers for safety reps
iii. all key workers to benefit from the coronavirus compensation scheme
iv. an end to outsourcing, which is unfair and unsafe: Sadiq Khan should lead by ending the privatisation of Tube cleaning
v. scrapping planned new anti-union legislation against rail workers.
Mover: National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers
Supporter: Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association