RECORDS at Companies House show that transport ministers are taking steps to renationalise more train operators, according to a rail union.
The RMT is demanding that the process is stepped up, following a series of ‘strategic changes’ which it says have been made to the structures of a a number of shell ‘Operator of Last Resort’ companies in readiness for them to take over at South Western Railway, c2c, CrossCountry and Great Western Railway.
Transport for Wales became publicly owned on 7 February, while the DfT has been negotiating the terms for ending the South Western Railway and Avanti West Coast franchises. Others are continuing for now under Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements, through which the DfT collects all revenue and pays the operators’ costs. The operators are also receiving a management fee.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: ‘It's now clear that the final preparations for the public takeover of Britain's failed franchise system are now in place and RMT says the Government should stop dithering and get on with it.
‘All the operators are now effectively public operations anyway with the taxpayer taking responsibility through a network of management contracts from which the operators extract a profit for doing nothing. The final moves to full public ownership would be a mere formality.
‘We should cut out the middleman, end the failed privatisation experiment and reinvest the private profits in a green railway fit for the future.’
The Department for Transport told Railnews: ‘We are committed to replacing the complicated franchising system with new railway contracts that will deliver better journeys for passengers.
‘Whilst we are engaging with operators, OLR shelf company names are being updated as a small part of sensible contingency planning to protect vital rail services.’