BR's sell-off plans mystify islanders

BRITISH Rail is appointing a pounds 30,000-a-year franchise director on a line which employs 67 people. The aim is to cut costs before the line is privatised.

In May services on the line between Shanklin and Ryde on the Isle of Wight were cut from three an hour to two. In the autumn, according to a leaked provisional timetable, the service will be cut to one train per hour except at peak times, saving an estimated pounds 50,000.

Local users of the route are mystified by the cuts as the line has only recently been modernised and given refurbished London Underground trains. A senior BR source admitted privately that the scope for savings was very limited unless services were cut altogether. More than a million passengers each year use the eight-mile line.

An internal British Rail advertisement for the job of franchise director suggests that the successful applicant will need to 'implement initiatives to reduce significantly the annual operating deficit'. The advertisement also says that the post would suit someone who is 'highly motivated' and 'wishes to be at the vanguard of the privatisation programme or is thinking of leaving the industry within the next two years'.

The line is one of the first seven earmarked by the Government for privatisation. The local bus company, Southern Vectis, is the favourite to win the contract when it is put out to tender, probably in 1995, if it can overcome potential objections from the Office of Fair Trading.

Under the Government's privatisation proposals, the BR network is to be divided into 25 franchises which will be offered to the private sector to operate. The Isle of Wight line is by far the smallest being offered and differs from other franchises in that responsibility for both track and train operations is to be handed over to the successful bidder.

A senior BR source told the Independent on Sunday: 'This line barely has any staff already. There are just the drivers, and the people who collect the tickets on the train. You need them as there are no station booking staff. Then there's a handful of engineers and that's about it. It's ludicrous to appoint someone at that salary, because they would have to save pounds 30,000 per year for a start.'

Gerard Cassidy, a local Independent councillor, said: 'Cutting the services on what is a well-used line is ridiculous. They've spent a lot of money giving us new trains and now they will make the service so infrequent that no one will use it. It is well-used and cheaper than the bus.'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own