Labour Research (February 2012)


Warning issued over rail project

Rail unions have welcomed the government’s decision to proceed with the HS2 high-speed rail project.

But there are serious concerns that the proposals may fall prey to the cost-cutting recommendations outlined in the McNulty “value for money” report into Britain’s railway system (see Labour Research, August 2011, pages 15-16). Phase one of HS2 between London and Birmingham should be running by 2026.

Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT rail union, said the development of high-speed links must be a key component of the country’s rail plans. But he warned against any cost-cutting measures.

“Any attempt by the government to pay for these developments by cutting jobs, services and investment elsewhere in the system, along the lines set out in the McNulty rail review, will meet with the stiffest resistance from RMT,” he said.

The TUC also added a note of caution by calling on the government to defend the jobs of the skilled and experienced workers who will be essential if HS2 is to become a reality.

“Thousands of jobs in rail construction, renewals and maintenance are currently under threat from Sir Roy McNulty’s proposals to cut staffing across the rail industry,” said TUC deputy general secretary Frances O’Grady.

She added: “With government and cross-party support secured, HS2 must be built in a way that maximises jobs and apprenticeships and delivers real benefits to passengers, communities and the environment.”

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