Socialist Worker

Privateers hold on to rail

Issue No. 1739

Privateers hold on to rail

THE STRATEGIC Rail Authority, which is meant to oversee the rail industry, published its long-delayed agenda for the railway on Tuesday of this week. It promises minor changes while leaving the chaos of rail privatisation intact. The authority's chairman, Sir Alastair Morton, said, "This document is not a call for renationalisation, nor for vertical integration, nor for revolutionary structural change."

Instead it proposes to renew contracts with the same private companies that have wrecked the railways. Above all it leaves infrastructure in the hands of privateers Railtrack. The rail authority will hand �30 billion of public money to the private rail companies over the next ten years. Railtrack this week upped its demand for extra money from the government to �1.5 billion.

The only way to stop that blackmail and prevent further disasters is to do what New Labour refuses to-renationalise the railway.


THE DISASTER of rail privatisation was plain to see in the High Court on Monday. Railtrack and Engineering Link were forced to accept 100 percent blame for a crash five years ago which involved 18 postal workers and killed John Thompson. The workers were on a travelling post office train which collided with the wreckage of a derailed freight train near Stafford on 8 March 1996.

The workers and their union, the CWU, have had to battle since then to win compensation. The court agreed interim payments totalling �403,736 for the victims and �167,500 towards the union's costs.

CWU general secretary Derek Hodgson said, "The victims' years of anxiety and distress did not seem to count in the eyes of Railtrack and Engineering Link. "It is time to change the system where railway companies can seek to deny liability by hiding behind each other."


AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL

The case against privatisation Public meeting Speakers include: John Edmonds (GMB), Mark Serwotka (PCS) and John McDonnell MP. 6pm, Monday 26 March, Jarvis International Hotel, Bath Road, Heathrow airport


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News
Sat 17 Mar 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1739
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