Public transport in London, that kept going throughout the blitz, pathetically
came to a halt on Monday February 2nd because of a few inches of
snow – or rather because of cost-cutting by private firms keener to make a fast
buck than to provide a decent service to Londoners. The whole public transport
system, rail and buses alike, is privately owned and run for profit. Staff did
their best to keep the service going, but they weren’t helped by management
cheese-paring. As far as they are concerned, workers are just a cost that needs
“The snowstorms sweeping Britain have
highlighted the importance of having enough front-line staff and how the
ability to plan for weather emergencies has been undermined by the
fragmentation of rail network,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.
“In decades past, without the benefit of modern forecasting methods, a
publicly owned and unified railway network deploying sufficient front-line
staff was better able to mitigate some of the worst effects of winter weather.
“The efforts of rail staff today have been massive, but with the network
fragmented and in the hands of private interests that put profit ahead of
service, the response has been erratic – and with fewer front-line staff the
weather has gained the upper hand sooner than it should have.
“Staffing levels are already pared to the bone, yet today we are fighting
plans by train-operating companies to remove even more front-line workers.
“The time has come to restore railway staffing to sensible levels and, if
the private operators’ shareholders don’t like it, they can simply hand back
the keys,” Bob Crow said. He is right.