Rail Franchising

Part of NHS Winter Crisis – in the House of Commons at 6:33 pm on 10th January 2018.

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Photo of Sandy Martin Sandy Martin Labour, Ipswich 6:33 pm, 10th January 2018

In my region, Abellio is running some trains with guards and some without. It is using its plans to introduce new trains in East Anglia as an excuse for threatening to remove guards’ ability to supervise the closing of the doors. I have a great fear that my constituents’ travel needs will be sacrificed on the altar of the rail operator’s intransigence. Abellio is quite capable of running brand new, safe and viable trains with guards who fully supervise the train, including by closing the doors. It can do that in Scotland and do it in the Netherlands.

The Conservatives say that our train operators are better than they would be if they were state owned, but many of our train operators are state owned—just not by this state. Dutch democratic decision takers believe that passengers in their country deserve rail services that involve guards ensuring the safe closure of doors, but here in England, Abellio is awarded a franchise that is based on the removal of that safety measure, and once the franchise is awarded, the Government claim that any disruption caused by industrial action is nothing to do with them. The franchising system reduces every decision to what the train operator can afford to do within the franchise it has agreed. I want a railway based on the best interests of passengers and of our country.