1. ITV Report

RMT Union urges stop to '£5bn rail privatisation plans for Wales'

Photo: David Davies/PA Archive/PA Images

The biggest rail workers' union is calling for a halt to plans it says would lead to a £5 billion rail privatisation.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union has written to Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones claiming that a decision had already been made to privatise Network Rail infrastructure in Wales and the South Wales Valley lines.

The idea that this trade union will sit back while plans are being hatched for a £5 billion scheme to hand Welsh railways lock, stock and barrel to private operators under the control of the Dutch, German, French or Chinese states is ridiculous.

RMT is appalled and angry that a Labour administration in Wales would even consider a proposal that mirrors the failed public-private partnership on London Underground which collapsed in total chaos.

The plan would also pave the way for smashing up and privatising the publicly owned Network Rail area by area.

This plan needs to be called to a halt right now and we are giving Carwyn Jones the opportunity to pull back from the brink.

– Mick Cash, General Secretary, RMT

The Welsh Government has absolutely no plan to privatise any part of the Welsh railway network.

In taking forward our ambitious plans for the new rail franchise and the South Wales Metro we will bring the core valleys lines under the direct ownership and control of the Welsh Government, and while we will work with the operator to run services and maintain the track on those lines, the railway infrastructure will remain in public sector ownership.

Ultimately this is about bringing together track and trains in Wales for the benefit of passengers, with safety as our number one concern.

Our approach will provide passengers with enhanced services, better quality trains and a vastly improved travelling experience and ensures that a better deal for passengers can be delivered.

In recent weeks we have seen what happens when railway investment is controlled from London. The cancellation of electrification plans to Swansea reinforces the need for the Welsh Government to take even greater control of our railway network.

Left to the UK Government, the Welsh railway network would continue to be underfunded and the ambitions of the Metro would be left unfulfilled.

– Welsh Government spokesperson