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£24m bill for Northern Rail lost profits to be footed by taxpayers

TAXPAYERS are to fork out £24 million in compensation to privateer rail operator Northern for profits lost due to strike action by workers fighting to keep safety-critical guards on trains, it was revealed today.

As reported in the Star, the terms of franchises handed to rail operators by the Tory government include a clause guaranteeing that the privateers will be compensated by the taxpayer for profits lost due to strike action.

Northern guards are taking their 40th day of strike action today in opposition to bosses’ plans to get rid of guards, despite the proven record of their importance in ensuring passenger safety in incidents such as derailments, collisions and on-board anti-social behaviour, including sexual assaults.

New research by rail union RMT reveals that Arriva Rail North, which runs Northern, has put in a bill for £24 million. Initially the government said that the information was “commercially confidential.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “This scandalous state of affairs means that not only are Arriva Rail North to be paid by the government when they are not running trains on strike days it also means the company have no financial incentive to settle the dispute.

“What is worse it is estimated the cost of the bailout to date up to Christmas will be over £24 million, enough to pay for the 3.1 per cent New Year fare freeze recommended by MPs almost three times over.”

Strikes against the removal of guards on trains are also planned by South Western Rail.

Peter Lazenby is Morning Star Northern Reporter.

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