Rail campaigners in ‘carve-up’ protest

editorial image
Have your say

Campaigners are set to stage a protest at Blackpool’s main railway station later this week over concerns at plans for the future of the Fylde’s two main train operators.

Rail union the RMT claims Government plans for the future of the Northern and First TransPennine services will threaten jobs, hit services for passengers and affect safety levels.

The Government is currently consulting on its plans, with that consultation due to be completed by August 18.

Among the concerns raised by the RMT are proposals by the Department for Transport which the union claims would reduce ticket office opening times, increase fares, cut ‘back room’ and support staff and introduce ‘driver-only operation’ of trains on Northern services.

Protests have already been held at Poulton and Kirkham’s stations, now campaigners will be at Blackpool North on Friday from 7am to 9am.

The union has nicknamed the proposals the ‘Beeching of the North’ – named after Dr 
Richard Beeching, who 
produced a report in the 1960s which led to closures across the rail network.

RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash said: “As the bogus and rushed Government consultation on the Northern and TransPennine carve-up draws to a close, the RMT continues to pull in massive public support for our campaign to stop the plans, and we will be ratcheting up our activities in the fortnight.

“The response we are getting from the public has been totally supportive, people know what is at stake.

“These plans amount to nothing less than the Beeching of the North – wrecking and closing essential rail services without any regard for the impact on the communities that we serve.”

A DfT spokesman said: “It is utter nonsense for the RMT to suggest that the Department for Transport would ever put passengers at risk or destroy services.

“We are consulting with the public and our industry partners, including the rail unions, to ensure that the Northern and Transpennine Express franchises capitalise on the Government’s massive programme of rail investment across the region, which will deliver real benefits for passengers and taxpayers.”