“Greedy rail privateers should have no place on our railways”

New long-term rail contracts issued by the government to Avanti and CrossCountry have been blasted by Mick Lynch, leader of the RMT rail union, who has condemned the government for rewarding ‘greedy rail privateers’.

Avanti West Coast and CrossCountry were awarded contract renewals, it was revealed today, despite both being found among Britain’s least reliable train operators.

But Transport Secretary Mark Harper claimed the Avanti services were ‘back on track’, despite its history of unreliability, attempting to reassure passengers that, ‘long-term certainty for both the operator and passengers will best ensure that improvements continue.’

However, Mick Lynch was not buying it, as he blasted Avanti as ‘one of the worst rail companies on the network’ and called its contract a ‘travesty’. Lynch highlighted how the contracts were an example of why the rail network must be brought into public ownership.

“From supplying inappropriate uniforms to staff, mass cancellation of train services and multiple industrial disputes, Avanti have been an unmitigated disaster,” blasted Lynch.

“They are incapable of running an efficient rail service or treating the staff properly.”

CrossCountry fared little better as Lynch accused the company of often ‘failing to employ enough staff to run services properly’, with more concern for ‘profit margins than delivering for passengers’.

The new contract with Avanti has a maximum term of nine years, but can be terminated after three, whilst the contract with CrossCountry will have a maximum eight years but can be terminated after four.

Lynch went on: “By granting companies like Avanti and CrossCountry with lucrative taxpayer funded contracts, the government is rewarding abject failure and exposing how corrupt the current system is.

“Greedy rail privateers should have no place on our railways and that’s why the whole network must be brought into public ownership as a matter of urgency, in the best interests of passengers and railway workers.”

Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, Justin Madders, also condemned the contracts saying the people of the North West ‘deserve better’.

“Nine more years of Avanti! The people of the North West deserve better than this poor service! Typical Tories tying the country into a long term contract which is totally unjustified on performance!” wrote Madders.

Whilst economist Prem Sikka highlighted who will really gain from this deal.

Sikka wrote on X: “Great news for German/Italian taxpayers as both government own parts of the companies and will make profits.

“Rail subsidy last year £13.3bn. UK privatisation = Ownership by foreign governments. Brits lose.”

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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