Rail unions slam Williams Review

Rail unions have slammed the review into Britain’s railways by Keith Williams.

The former British Airways chief executive yesterday suggested the railways should be in the hands of one individual or body which is independent of government.

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: “The problem with Britain’s railways is the franchising system, which hasn’t worked, doesn’t work, and will not work. The model is broken. That is what Mr Williams needs to address, not this two-bit half-baked idea to paper over the cracks on the rails.

“He is trying to package up a broken model with a further two degrees of separation and it’s a step back to the early days of privatisation when the SRA did not work. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

“We need to put the wheels and the steel back together in a proper publicly-owned railway which works for everyone – for passengers, for businesses, and for those of us who work on the railway.”

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Keith Williams is taking us into the realms of pure fiction. It’s plain daft to suggest going back to the future by echoing the failed and discredited SRA which proved costly and unworkable.

“Mr Williams has already said that the current rail franchising model is finished – but what he is offering today is a little more than a sleight of hand. Creating a new body is wildly out of step with public demands for a public railway and won’t cure the many ills of privatisation.

“Williams seems happy to overlook the fact that more than 99p in every pound invested in our railways comes from the public purse. It’s not so much Back To The Future but Alice in Wonderland if he thinks privateers are going to invest more if franchises are elongated.

“They won’t – their only concern is extracting profits from long-suffering passengers.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT warned from the off that Keith Williams had been hand-picked by Chris Grayling and the Tories to try and get them off the hook over the privatised chaos on our railways and this BBC interview shows we were dead right and the fix is well and truly in.

“RMT also warned that Keith Williams would side 100% with his big-business mates and duck the issue of public ownership of the railways – the option supported by over two thirds of the British people. He has and after months of deliberation has come up with the classic cop-out of another unaccountable quango, this is like Yes Minister on steroids.”

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