The Action for Rail campaign joined forces with transport, disabled and older people’s campaign groups to condemn plans by London Mayor Boris Johnson to shed hundreds of staff across London’s transport.
Campaigners were protesting as they believe passengers could be faced with significantly fewer staff to assist them as a result of a cocktail of cuts being proposed across London transport services. They include plans to:
• Close ticket offices at stations across London Underground
• Cut other tube staff and,
• Remove guards from trains on London Overground.
Campaigners also fear the cuts could have an impact on staff employed in maintenance work across the network.
London Underground is due to release further details of the proposed cuts next month. In his Spending Review earlier this year, the Chancellor announced a 12.5 per cent cut to the Transport for London (TfL) budget, to take effect from June 2015. Action for Rail fears that this cut could result in further job losses.
Polling recently commissioned by the RMT showed that more than two-thirds (71 per cent) of passengers oppose ticket office closures in London. A survey of passengers jointly commissioned by Action for Rail, Transport for All, Disabled Passengers Against Cuts (DPAC) and the National Pensioners Convention shows that:
• Four in five (81 per cent) of respondents said the loss of staff at stations would make travel difficult
• More than two-thirds (71 per cent) said they require assistance from staff at stations and on trains
• More than half (54 per cent) said they needed help buying tickets
• Nearly half (45 per cent) needed help with accessing ticket gates and platforms; and,
• More than a third (34 per cent) said it would deter them making some journeys or make train travel difficult.
Campaigners also highlighted that under the Mayoralty of Boris Johnson fares have risen three times faster than average earnings, contributing to the living standards crisis in the capital.
Director of disabled and older people’s passenger group Transport for All Faryal Velmi said: “Underground staff play a key role in assisting disabled and older people to use the London Underground including accessing the platform and the train, particularly at stations with complicated access routes, or manual boarding ramps.
“We are very concerned that if these staff cuts go ahead then access to the entire London Underground network will be restricted for disabled and older passengers”.
– Action for Rail is the joint campaign of the TUC, ASLEF, RMT, TSSA and Unite, which campaigns against cuts to jobs and services and for a national integrated railway under public ownership that puts passengers and public first.
– The RMT survey is available at www.rmt.org.uk/news/new-survey-shows-londoners-want-ticket-offices-to-stay-open/
– Full details of the survey by Action for Rail, Transport for All, DPAC and the National Pensioners Convention are available at www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/tucfiles/TUC_Future_of_Railway_Staffing_disabled_older_passengers.pdf
– Information about fare increases rising faster than average earnings is available at www.rmt.org.uk/news/rmt-exposes-full-extent-of-london-tube-fares-rip-off/