Privatised rail firms to shed over 1,000 jobs

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The Independent Online
Two newly-privatised rail firms will cut more than 1,000 jobs in the North-west, according to leaked documents.

Great Western Holdings, the new owners of Regional Railways North West, which runs trains on more than 1,100 miles of track, plans to cut 800 jobs, and the Liverpool-based bus company MTL, owners of Merseyrail Electrics, will cut 355 posts, according to the pressure group Save Our Railways.

The group said it had obtained leaked documents giving details of the cuts, following a claim last week that MTL planned to lose 1,200 staff at Regional Railways North East within two years.

Staff were caught unawares. A Regional Railways North West spokesman said: "We know nothing about any job cuts. Indeed, Great Western Holdings have increased job levels on their Great Western line."

MTL said that it had not "ruled out the possibility" that there might be job losses at the train companies it had taken over. "No specific figure has been discussed," said a spokesman.

Save Our Railway's national secretary, Keith Bill, said: "The truth about rail privatisation is now coming out. Thousands of staff will go, inevitably leading to a worse service for passengers."

The pressure group is keen to highlight the need for railway firms to cut spending. Most private companies bid aggressively for train firms and many have to cut costs while rapidly increasing the number of passengers carried.

Save Our Railways calculate that under British Rail the train companies employed more than 48,000 people. A 25 per cent cut in staff levels would mean more than 12,000 jobs will go.

Cost cutting has already affected passenger services. Last month, South West Trains, which is run by Stagecoach, the bus and rail giant, was forced to cancel peak-time services after staff reductions left the company short of experienced drivers.