Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/974/26577
From The Socialist newspaper, 6 December 2017
- East Coast rescued from private failure AGAIN
- Biggest hike in fares for five years
- Transport workers under attack
Nationalise rail now
Virgin Trains photo Virgin Trains East Coast/CC (Click to enlarge)
Steve Cawley, Peterborough Socialist Party
For the third time the government is having to save the East Coast Main Line railway from private sector failure. Virgin Trains will stop running the line three years early, in 2020.
First Sea Containers Ltd, then National Express and now Richard Branson. But last time it was publicly owned, the line returned over £1 billion to the public coffers.
Shares in Stagecoach - which runs the line in partnership with Virgin - jumped 13% when the government made the franchise termination announcement. Future payments due to the government from the private operators will be cancelled.
Their profits don't just come from subsidy payments. Track access fees paid by train operators actually fell between 2004 and 2012, for example.
Transport union RMT is balloting members on the line for strike action over Virgin Trains' attacks on conditions and pay. Meanwhile, rail bosses across the country want to cut costs and increase profits by extending 'driver-only operation' - removing the guards' safety-critical function controlling train doors.
Many of us have witnessed or heard of accidents with doors trapping clothing or bags and trains starting to move off. This happened to my partner a few years back on a local Cambridgeshire train. She was lucky that other passengers shouted too, and the driver then stopped.
And rail fares are set for the biggest hike in five years - an average of 3.4% from 2 January, according to the Rail Delivery Group. This increase is well above most commuters' stagnating wages.
Jeremy Corbyn has promised to bring the railways back into public ownership, which is very good. But passengers and rail workers can't just wait for the private franchises to run out, as Corbyn has floated.
The attacks are happening now. And apart from the possible extension of contracts into the dim and distant future, there's also the possibility that bosses may sell or spirit away assets in preparation.
A commitment to public ownership used to be on every Labour Party membership card, pre-Blair. We need to nationalise the whole rail network as a priority - with compensation paid only on the basis of proven need. This need would not apply to billionaires and big companies, whatever the European Court of Justice might say!
Donate to the Socialist Party
Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal
The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.
The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.
- The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
- Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.
In The Socialist 6 December 2017:
Glenfield victory shows people power can save our NHS
Tyneside walk-in closures postponed after rally
Socialist Party news and analysis
Nationalise rail now
End Tory war on poor
Rough sleeping crisis: make homes, not arrests
Royal wedding exposes them-and-us visa system
RBS to sack 1,000: nationalise the banks
Branson sues NHS: kick out the profiteers
Fighting sexism, violence and capitalism - an international struggle
What we think
Corbyn's Labour can defeat Tories with socialist programme
Labour council Blairites deselected
Demonstrations by uni students and staff greet Bath vice-chancellor resignation
Liverpool John Moores Uni landslide for Socialist Students
TUSC conference to debate 2018 elections
Plans to launch no-cuts campaign at Kirklees College
Coventry Socialist sales hit 1,000
Waltham Forest Universal Credit protest
Court maintains injunction against fracking protesters
Socialist readers' comments and reviews
Dramatic retelling of Grunwick strike hits all the right notes
Blairite horror and Labour's divisions graphically exposed
Comment: Socialism and truth about Zane
The Socialist Inbox
Workplace news and analysis
PCS Left Unity celebrates 40th anniversary at annual conference
Brutal rail privateer Abellio takes over Midlands rail services
School staff strike against privatisation
Driving examiners walkout hits first day of new test
BT pensions review - oppose the attacks on the pension schemes
Arriva bus strikers stand firm
International socialist news and analysis
Irish capitalist state: rotten to the core
Mobilise to stop bigoted billionaire Donald Trump's state visit to Britain
Trump's tax plan: Robin Hood in reverse
The Socialist 6 December 2017 |
Join the Socialist
| Audio | PDF | ebook