The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union has reacted to the awarding of a major rail franchise to Govia, a consortium including the French state operator, by saying that fares in London will rise to subsidise fares in Paris:
"Once again the logical and popular option of bringing the massive Southern/Thameslink franchise under public ownership has been ignored and instead it has gone to a consortium involving the French state operator.
Fares in London will go up to subsidise fares in Paris.
This Government is quite happy to have state ownership of our railways as long as it isn't the British state. .. The bottom line is that those taking charge will have the green light to axe nearly 500 safety-critical guards and move the entire service to driver-only operation.
Commuters forking out up to £5,000 a year will end up paying through the nose to travel on de-staffed, unreliable, overcrowded and unsafe trains. The only safe and sensible option was to bring the whole lot under public ownership."
The Government has announced the winner of the competition to run a new rail franchise that includes the £6.5 billion Thameslink project.
The new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise will be run by the Go-Ahead Group company Govia, with rival company FirstGroup missing out.
FirstGroup had been running a section of the new franchise under the First Capital Connect (FCC) banner since 2006, but FCC will disappear when the new seven-year TSGN franchise starts in September 2014.
While Go-Ahead celebrated today, FirstGroup chiefs expressed their disappointment at losing out on a franchise which, in terms of passengers, is the biggest ever awarded.