Rail workers fear for jobs and services

Rail protestors at Grange-over-Sands

Rail protestors at Grange-over-Sands

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

ANGRY rail workers from South Lakeland joined in a mass protest taking place across the North, as part of a ‘fightback’ against cuts to jobs, services and safety.

Protestors with placards and flags turned out at Grange-over-Sands railway station, which was one of many designated for action as part of ‘Fightback Friday’.

There are concerns about ‘bogus and rushed’ consultation over the future of the Northern and Trans-Pennine services.

The consultation, due to end on August 18, could bring about fare increases, hundreds of job losses and the scrapping of some services, including south Cumbria to Manchester Airport.

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It has provoked strong reaction from customers, rail workers and the Rail and Maritime Union (RMT), which organised Friday’s protests at stations across the North.

Acting general secretary, Mick Cash said: “RMT has engaged tens of thousands of people across the region in the fight against the attacks on jobs and services smuggled through in the government’s consultation document on the future of the Northern and Trans-Pennine Express franchises.

“As the bogus and rushed government consultation draws to a close, RMT continues to pull in massive public support for our campaign.”

He added: “Let’s not forget that the core of these plans is to axe jobs, throw the guards off the trains and jack up fares while capacity to meet surging rail demand in the area is left to stagnate.”

The proposals, which focus solely on the north of England, have come ahead of the Northern and TransPennine franchises going up for renewal in 2016.

In the consultation document released by the Department of Transport, it is suggested fares will rise while train guards will be made redundant, services could become ‘driver-only’ and stations be de-staffed.

The Furness peninsula service between Barrow and Manchester Airport, operated by TransPennine Express, could also be cut, leaving only older Northern trains running between Barrow and Lancaster.

The Windermere to Oxenholme line could also lose its TransPennine Express services, with only a Northern ‘shuttle’ service running along the line.

Craig Johnson, regional organiser of the RMT in Cumbria, said: “The RMT has been accused of scaremongering, but we have only taken what’s in the Department for Transport’s documents.”

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