EU seals mass rail privatisation

Transport union RMT is calling for a Leave vote after European assembly backs rail privatisation for all 28 member states.

The European Parliament’s decision to back the opening up of all rail routes across the EU to competition for private operators was just one more reason to vote Leave on June 23, RMT has announced.

The European Parliament rubberstamped the ‘market pillar’ of the EU’s Fourth Railway Package which means that train operators must have complete access to the networks of member states to operate domestic passenger services.

The European Council had already agreed that mandatory competitive tendering should be the main way of awarding public service contracts.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said that the failed Tory privatisation of rail over twenty years ago using EU directive 91/440 was now being imposed on over 500 million people by EU diktat without any real mandate.

“This rail package is designed to privatise railways across Europe and its proposals are remarkably similar to the McNulty report on the future of GB railways, imposing further fragmentation and attacks on workers.

“McNulty, the Tory government and the EU share the business-led mania for privatisation and agree on the need to jack up fares and attack jobs, pay and pensions to pay for it, no-one has voted for that.

“It is impossible to make changes to this privatisation juggernaut inside the undemocratic EU so the only solution is to get out by voting Leave on June 23,” he said.

European Union transport ministers had already endorsed the ‘political pillar’ of the package last October which forces member states’ to open up domestic rail markets for profit.

The Council had also already agreed that mandatory competitive tendering should be the main way of awarding public service contracts.

The agreement, which is still subject to approval by the European Council, was made between the parliament and the Netherlands presidency.

A number of member states including France, Germany and The Netherlands have used EU rail directives to build up a large portfolio of franchises across the EU, giving them a head start in the scramble to dominate opening rail markets.

These state companies have been skimming the profits in order to invest in their own networks and strengthening their market position.

A German Transport Ministry spokesperson admitted in 2001 that state-owned company Deutsche Bahn was “skimming profit from the entire Deutsche Bahn and ensuring that it is anchored in our budget – that way we can make sure it is invested in the rail network here in Germany”.

 

The new EU rules demand that railway companies have access to all EU domestic passenger rail market from January 1 2019 “in time for the railway timetables starting on December 14 2020”.

The European Parliament news service said that, while competitive bidding for public service contracts across the EU may be phased in gradually, it will be compulsory.

“Competitive bidding for public service contracts for passenger rail services will be the norm,” it stipulates, a move supported by all the political groupings in the assembly.

However in Britain the Labour Party all transport unions and two-thirds of the people of Britain all support public ownership of a network run as a public service.

RMT Parliamentary group member Kelvin Hopkins MP warned that the core intention of the Fourth Railway Package was designed to visit the mistakes made in Britain on the rest of the EU.

“Railway privatisation in the UK was a laboratory experiment that was designed in the EU.

“It has been an expensive failure which continental governments would be foolish to imitate. “Separating trains from track and privatising train companies to set up liberalised and allegedly competitive rail operations has been massively expensive to taxpayers and passengers.

“We have the highest fares in Europe and we know all about the taxpayer subsidies,” he said.