The RMT has been out supporting rail passengers who pay ‘more for less’

An RMT protest over rail services

A trade union has been out in force campaigning over the raw deal train companies give passengers. It’s making noise about the fact that while companies put fares up, they’re cutting back staff and services. You could say that passengers are paying “more for less”, which is exactly what the union is claiming.

Rail fares up – shareholder’s money up

On Wednesday 9 March, the RMT Union was out at train stations across England. It’s been raising awareness about the state of the rail system. Specifically, the RMT has been highlighting the cost of tickets versus the service passengers actually receive:

Read on...

As the RMT said on its website:

In March 2022, rail fares increased by another 3.8% and in the last decade they have increased by an eye watering 30%.

Usually, the government sets a formula to work out the yearly ticket price increases, which hit in January. This year it capped and delayed the rise because of soaring inflation. But despite this, the 3.8% rise was the biggest since 2013. Meanwhile, the RMT says train companies paid out over £2bn in dividends to shareholders. And at the same time, they’ve neglected staff and created chaotic services.

Cuts and chaos

For example, in January the rail industry claimed the government had told it to cut 10% of spending to save money. The government denied this, but it seems that in some areas reductions in services due to the pandemic may become permanent. Meanwhile, RMT members are fighting for fair pay.

An outsourced cleaning company is making a real-terms cut to its staff’s pay. On 9 March, the RMT said another strike hitting a separate cleaning outsourcing company would also be going ahead – once again, over pay. In February, staff on the TransPennine Express service walked out over pay and conditions. On 7 March, reports emerged of “shambolic” services on South Western Railways.

But this kind of chaos is hardly unusual. Back in 2021, the government had to take the Southeastern train operator back into public control. The move came after the company failed to declare millions in taxpayer funding. The Southern Rail franchise saw years of laughable services coupled with passenger anger.

Public dissatisfaction

All this has resulted in public unhappiness with our rail system. Before the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, Transport Focus reported on passenger satisfaction. It wrote in January 2019 that:

Passenger satisfaction with rail services has fallen to a 10-year low. In the latest survey, overall satisfaction with rail services was 79 per cent, the lowest level since 2008, with more than one in five passengers (21 per cent) not satisfied.

So, the RMT’s campaign is sorely needed. The privatisation of our rail network has not just failed workers. Companies’ perpetual chaos and focus on profits has made the system a disaster for passengers too.

Featured image via the RMT

Get involved

  • Sign the RMT’s petition over rail fares and services here.

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us