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Unions condemn handing of six-year ‘gold-plated’ rail contract to privateer

RAIL unions have condemned the handing of a six-year “gold-plated” operating contract to a privateer with a record of failure.

The Department for Transport announced today that Arriva will be running the publicly subsidised Chiltern Railway services until 2027.

Arriva, which is owned by Germany’s state-owned rail operator Deutsche-Bahn, proved incapable of running Britain’s biggest rail franchise Northern Rail efficiently and last year the service was taken into public control and ownership.

Chiltern rail operations include services from London to Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire and long-distance services to the West Midlands.

Transport union TSSA, which represents white-collar rail workers, said that the decision is a continuation of the government’s “failed privatisation of the railways.”

General secretary Manuel Cortes said: “At a time when fares hikes are on the horizon and passenger services and staff are experiencing cuts, allowing companies to profit off the back of passengers and taxpayers is simply immoral.

“The government is continuing to prop up failed privatisation in our railways with its latest gold-plated contract to private group Arriva to run Chiltern Railways.

“We are told time and again from ministers that savings have to be made, yet when a private firm wants to pay out taxpayer money to its own private shareholders for running our railways they don’t bat an eyelid.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “As rail workers face pay cuts and passengers face fare rises it’s business as usual for the privatised rail industry who are being handed out multi-year rail contracts with guaranteed profits.

“This is also yet another rail contract dished out by the Tory government to a company owned by German state railways, which means that German state railways will be levering up their profits while levelling down the standard of living of passengers and workers in the UK.

“In the region of two thirds of our railway are now operated by overseas companies, making a mockery of the ‘Great British Railways’ plans of the government.”

The Department for Transport was invited to comment.

Arriva UK Trains managing director David Brown “very much welcomed” the awarding of the contract which he said “reflected the partnership” it has with the government.
 

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