Unions call on Grayling to come clean on West Midlands franchise

West Midlands Rail trainUnions have challenged Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to come clean after the DfT announced that a Dutch/Japanese consortium has been awarded the West Midlands rail franchise.

The Secretary of State for Transport said rail passengers will get new, longer, trains with more seats, and more space, as nearly £1 billion is invested in services on the West Midlands network.

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: “What I want to know is how much of that £1 billion investment is coming from the private company which has been awarded the franchise by Mr Grayling’s department? And how much is coming from the taxpayer?

“It’s time for Mr Grayling to come clean about where the money is coming from. We should be told how much public subsidy this private company will receive – directly and indirectly – from the public purse so it can make a private profit.

“The truth is this government – and the train operating companies – try to blur the truth at every turn. They talk about risk and reward but there is no risk, only reward. The private companies reap their profits by overcharging passengers and by getting public investment from the hard-pressed taxpayer.”

West Midlands Trains, a joint venture between Abellio, the East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui, will take over the franchise from London Midland, the current operator, in December. London Midland is owned by Govia, which also owns embattled Southern Rail.

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “The Tories told us they wanted us out of the European Union so we could take back control. But back in his day job, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling continues to out hand our railway keys to the Dutch, German, French and Italian states.

“If he had an ounce of integrity he would resign but I am not holding my breath. The only way to end this gravy train and keeping money made out of railways in Britain reinvested back in Britain is by electing a Labour government who will end this long running farce by bringing our railways back into British public ownership.”

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