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Public paying hundreds of millions to boost private rail profits during pandemic, RMT reveals

PRIVATE rail companies are being handed hundreds of millions in extra subsidies to run trains during the coronavirus lockdown, rail union RMT said today.

Bosses are being handed an additional £231 million to maintain services – cash that will help maintain their profits at a healthy £500 million, according to government figures obtained by RMT. 

But the operators say that the extra cash is not enough and are demanding even more.

They want the 12-month “coronavirus subsidy” to be extended to 18 months.

Rail unions and passenger groups have written to MPs in protest.

In March Transport Secretary Grant Shapps introduced “Emergency Measures Agreements” (EMAs) to pay rail operators extra to keep services running as passenger numbers plummeted.

The cash includes millions pouring into the coffers of another group of rail parasites known as “Roscos” who own the rolling stock which is leased to the operators at enormous cost.

Rail unions and passenger groups are demanding proper scrutiny of any government decision to extend the extra subsidies.

They also demand that rail be taken back into public ownership, and that cash currently maintaining privateers’ profits is invested in the rail network.

RMT senior assistant general secretary Mick Lynch said:‎ “We desperately need a properly funded rail network to play its crucial role in fighting climate change and to keep the lifeblood of our economy flowing.

“Now more than ever we need every penny of public money invested in building a safe, affordable, accessible railway, not leeched out of the system by a small group of big businesses with a consistent record of failure.”

Ellen Lees of the We Own It pro-nationalisation campaign group said: “It’s time we ended this farce.

“Instead of funnelling millions into the pockets of private companies, we should bring our railways into public hands so they can work for people and the planet, not for private profit.”

Association of British Commuters co-founder Emily Yates said:‎ “Passenger trust is more important than ever.

“Public ownership is now the only way to restore this trust.”

Bring Back British Rail founder Ellie Harrison said: “Privatised rail has never worked. ‘Natural monopolies’ like our railways need to be centrally co-ordinated and run for the public good. Now the coronavirus crisis has laid bare this simple truth.”

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