Private rail firm to slash staff by 40%

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More than 1,000 jobs are to be cut by privatised rail companies in the north of England, according to leaked government documents.

The figures, obtained by the BBC, show that MTL, the largest private bus company in Britain, which took over Regional Railways North East and serves Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle, plans to cut staff levels by 40 per cent. The company will collect more than pounds 1.5bn from the taxpayer over the next seven years to run both services. Rail campaigners have consulted lawyers to see whether the money would be spent illegally if it were paid as redundancy to workers.

Critics of privatisation say that the drastic cost-cutting will lead to a "nasty and cheap rail system run by a skeleton staff". Jonathan Bray, a spokesman for Save our Railways, said: "This leaked document shows what privatisation is all about. Private companies are given contracts not because they offer the beat deal for passengers but because they promise to axe staff and slash costs."