The Current State of UK Railways
Trains are one of the most useful modes of transport in the UK, with over 10,000 miles of track to travel on, and there’s a growing need for it as well with the population rising steadily. But the railway is in a bit of a state of disarray and disquiet at the moment. Over the past 12 years, fares have risen by an almost extraordinary 66%, privatisation is on the increase, and plans to introduce driver-only operated trains have been met with strike action from the Rail, Maritime and Transport union.
A recent report from the RMT claims that 75% of the rail companies are now owned by a foreign company. RMT General Secretary Mick Cash has described this as “nothing short of a scandal and reinforces the demand for nationalisation of our rail assets for the benefit of the British passenger and taxpayer.” Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has joined in on the debate, concurring with the view of Mick Cash.
Other current issues on the rails include frequent strike action over controversial plans to introduce driver-only operated trains, effectively removing the conductor. Workers from Merseyrail and Northern Rail took strike action on the 13th of March earlier this year and both are due to strike again on the 8th of April. For Liverpool, this is significant as the Grand National is happening on that day and the Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has been urged to intervene. RMT’s Regional Organiser for the North West, John Tilley says that while Joe Anderson does need to step in, ‘surrendering’ is not an option.
Not all stories about railway travel have been negative however. Last Sunday, two brand new stations were opened to welcome receptions from locals; Low Moor in West Yorkshire, and Ilkeston in Derbyshire. Low Moor sits on the Calder Valley line and has connections to London Kings Cross via Grand Central, while Ilkeston sits on the Leeds-Nottingham line. Future stations include Warrington West and Kenilworth in Warwickshire.
Also, a couple of days prior to the two station openings, repairs to the Settle-Carlisle line after a serious landslip near Armathwaite were finally completed. The reopening of the picturesque and historic railway line was marked with the Flying Scotsman making an appearance, treating enthusiasts and families to a rare sight.