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Why we should all be worried about Tory plans to privatise Network Rail

Most of us use the railways from time to time or even every day. We all want a safe service. That is now at risk.

Back in the 1990's, the then Tory Govt privatised our railways. They created the train operators and infrastructure company Railtrack, all of which were private enterprises.

After a disastrous and lethal episode in the history of our railways because profit was being put before safety costing many lives (Southall, Ladbrook Grove, Hatfield), the last Labour Govt re-nationalised the infrastructure and created Network Rail.

Now, Chis Grayling, Tory Transport Minister, wants to roll back the clock and get private companies to do exactly what they failed at before by bringing them in as 'partners' to run our infrastructure under a seemingly benign smokescreen of train operators and infrastructure 'working together'. This is a plan so misguided and ideologically driven that the Minister seems prepared to play Russian Roulette with people's live in order to achieve his political ambition. A political ambition by the way that lead to a similarly dysfunctional justice system on his watch and overseen by the then Home Office Minister, Theresa May, who is now Prime Minister. Most of Grayling's actions as Justice Minister had to be reversed before May became Prime Minister because they were so unworkable and unfair. The pair of them can't be trusted.

Of course, our local MP, Mark Garnier, supports his friends plans, like he has toed the line on all party issues no matter how unfair they are on ordinary people in his constituency, because like his colleagues, he's so out of touch and cannot see the wood for the trees (remember his support for the doomed Forest sell off). He also dutifully dedicated his recent 'opinion' page in the Shuttle to promote Chris Grayling's barmy rail idea rather than talking about something more locally relevant.

Labour opposes the privatisation of Network Rail and wants to see the train operators come under public control too. Only that way can we use the money we invest to be spent on our railways to benefit passengers and their safety. Otherwise, we'll see private companies using our money to line their own pockets to potentially cause the kind of tragedies we've already seen when privatised Railtrack was in charge. Yes, we want to see joined up working on our railways but that can best happen under public ownership.

Stephen Brown

Wyre Forest Labour Party

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