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Monday 21st
posted by Peter Lazenby in Britain

Transport workers will ‘do everything in their power’ to stop deadly privatisation

THE government is planning piecemeal privatisation of Network Rail, the publicly owned body responsible for the maintenance and repair of Britain’s rail infrastructure.

The sell-off flies in the face of the catastrophic effects of the last privatisation of maintenance operations, which included the Southall disaster in 1997 in which seven people died and 139 were injured, the Ladbroke Grove disaster of 1999 where 31 died and 529 were injured and the Hatfield disaster in Hertfordshire in October 2000, which killed four people and injured 70.

Transport union RMT has vowed to do “everything in its power” to stop the process.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is expected to announce new “reforms” of railway services before the end of the year, and sources say he has Network Rail in his sights.

During the last rail privatisation in 1994, a consortium of companies under the Railtrack banner took over maintenance and upgrading responsibilities for the lines. The firm was taken back into public ownership in 2002 following the Hatfield disaster, which involved a derailment caused by metal fatigue.

Despite the fact that during Transport workers will ‘do everything in their power’ to stop deadly privatisation the transfer publicly owned Network Rail took on £7 billion of Railtrack’s debts, shareholders were paid hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation by taxpayers.

This time around Mr Grayling is expected to aim at privatising sections of the network piece by piece.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT has been aware for some time now that the hard right of the Tory Party would like to break apart and reprivatise Network Rail and drag us back to the dangerous and lethal days of Railtrack.

“RMT will do everything within its power to fight any attempt by this government to reprivatise our rail infrastructure.

“Under Railtrack there was a whole spate of disasters and people died.

“Corners were cut on maintenance to safeguard profits. The government of the time was forced to take it back into public ownership.”

In another development northern politicians have called on Chancellor Philip Hammond to invest in rail infrastructure in the region and end “decades of unfairness” which has seen taxpayers’ money poured into projects such as London’s Crossrail development.

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