1. ITV Report

RMT: Chinese 'set to make a killing at taxpayers expense'

Photo: ITV Meridian, Library picture

The RMT Union has today said the Chinese state is "set to make a killing at the British taxpayers expense" after it was announced a new operator is set to takeover the South West Trains franchise.

In a surprise announcement today the franchise will be taken over by Great Western Railway owner First Group and MTR who operate the Hong Kong metro.

The new franchise will begin from 20th August this year and will run until at least August 2024.

Credit: PA

Stagecoach had run the franchise for 21 years.

It will see First Group owning 70% of the joint venture and MTR owning the remaining 30%.

First Group said it will deliver the "tangible improvements that customers and stakeholders want" with passengers able to look forward to "new and better trains".

The company says customers will see more seats and services, quicker journey times, improved stations and more flexible fare options.

The CEO of MTR, Jeremy Long, said the company is known for its "excellent quality rail services".

Credit: PA

Once again the Government have refused to consider the public sector option for a major rail franchise and instead it's a foreign state operator, in this case the Chinese state, which is set to make a killing at the British taxpayers expense."

"The nonsense is that with the Government triggering Article 50 this week they would be free to ignore EU rail directives that slam a block on public ownership. It is frankly ludicrous that the Tories are continuing with the "any state but the British state" policy which has plundered our railways for ‎over two decades."

"RMT is deeply concerned at exactly what this announcement will mean for our members, these crucial rail services and the safety of the travelling public. We will be seeking an early meeting with the new owners to secure cast iron guarantees on the jobs and role of the guards, the future of the wider workforce and the safety and quality of passenger services. "

– Mick Cash, General Secretary, RMT Union

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