Question Time: Peter Hitchens Slams Government For Causing More Trains Chaos Than Unions

"The ludicrous experiment of privatisation largely wrecked the railways," says The Mail on Sunday journalist.

A Mail on Sunday journalist has taken apart the government over its protracted dispute with the unions over the railways over pay and conditions.

On BBC Question Time, Peter Hitchens told transport secretary Mark Harper that he was “silly” to keep referring to higher train drivers wages when the vast majority of striking rail workers are not drivers and much less well-paid workers.

A big talking point for ministers has been that rail union members’ salary “already averages £60,000 a year” – when critics say that only means drivers.

Hitchens also laid out how the government had inflicted more damage on the railways than the unions.

It comes as members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union have voted to renew their mandate to continue taking industrial action for the next six months in the long-running dispute.

Hitchens said: “I wish the minister would stop referring to train drivers and what they’re paid.

“Obviously, they are part of the dispute, but most of the people who are taking part in it are not train drivers and they aren’t paid anything like that.

“And it’s silly of him to keep saying that because it muds the waters.

“I don’t know how best you can compromise.

“My own view of British governments and the railways has been for many years that it’s the government which causes far more disruption to my twice daily travel on the trains that any union has ever done.

“The failure to maintain the ludicrous experiment of privatisation, which largely wrecked the railways, the constant track circuit failures, signal failures and other things. Currently I can’t even get to work properly because a bridge has collapsed on my way to work.

“This is not a well-run, seriously-invested service and it’s not taken seriously by the government which runs a ministry for roads with railways tacked on.”


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