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TSSA calls for clarity on rail renationalisation

RAIL union TSSA is seeking answers from the government on its plans for the industry as Britain’s chaotic privatised rail services head for the buffers.

The union has written to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps following reports that ministers are considering full-scale renationalisation.

Manuel Cortes, general secretary of rail union TSSA, said: “There can be no pretence that it is any longer acceptable to continue lining the pockets of private operators.”

He called on Mr Shapps to “bring our railways into public hands for the good of our country.”

In his letter to the Transport Secretary, Mr Cortes said: “Serious questions are being asked about the future of our railways, with many private franchises teetering on the brink long before Covid-19.

“In recent days we have seen the Financial Times reporting that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reclassified our railways as being publicly owned, after your department introduced emergency measures agreements (EMAs) at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

“To date, the EMAs are estimated to have cost the taxpayer in excess of £3.5 billion in order to stave off the insolvency of private companies on our railways.

“In short, railways run by the state, for the good of the British people are now the only viable and reasonable way forward. 

“Our railways are simply too important to be allowed to fail – and the only way to ensure their future is to bring them into public hands.

“Clarity on this point is urgently needed, and at the same time the British public need unequivocal guarantees there will be no cuts to the services we all rely on. 

“For reasons related to healthcare, the economy and jobs we must be told what government plans are for after September when the EMAs come to an end.”

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said that the operating of the rail industry is under review and that it was be inappropriate to comment further.

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