Skip to main content

The era of rail privatisation is ‘null and void,’ unions say

Covid crisis has shown that ‘our railways can never again be seen as a plaything of profiteers,’ TSSA says

THE era of privatisation is “null and void” after Covid-19, rail unions have said, after a report today laid bare the pandemic’s effect on the industry’s finances. 

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) and Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) said that the annual Office of Rail and Road (ORR) report shows the need for public ownership of Britain’s railways, pointing to the massive increase in government funding up to April 2020. 

ORR figures for 2019-20 showed the cost of the industry was £20.2 billion, which was funded through fares and other passenger income (£11.6bn), government (£6.5bn) and other sources (£2.0bn). 

Fares income dropped by £10.4bn, largely due to the impact of Covid-19 in March, while government funding of the operational railway increased by 45.2 per cent to £6.5bn, in part due to the impact of Covid-19. 

Overall, the total income in the industry last year was £20.1bn, compared with an expenditure of £20.2bn. 

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said that the level of public funding shows railways “would have come to a total standstill in a time of national emergency without the support of the state,” warning of greater effects over this year. 

He added: “Our brave members — transport workers — have been saving lives since the outbreak of the pandemic by making sure our NHS heroes and others on the front line can travel to and from their work. 

“This crisis has highlighted how our railways can never again be seen as a plaything of profiteers; they are, and always have been, vital to the well-being of our nation and must be run for and by the people.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said it was “absolutely vital that taxpayers and passengers get value for money from the railway.”

He commented: “Unfortunately, privatisation means that profiteering from locomotives and rolling stock alone is costing the industry at least £400 million a year, and will be far more after the profusions of subcontractors have also had their slice.

“Now, more than ever, we need public ownership to ensure that every penny that goes into the railway is actually invested in the railway.”


We're a reader-owned co-operative, which means you can become part of the paper too by buying shares in the People’s Press Printing Society.

Become a supporter

Fighting fund

You've Raised:£ 13,797
We need:£ 4,203
11 Days remaining
Donate today