A mutual future for Welsh Railways

Today in the Welsh Assembly Vaughan Gething AM launched a report titled 'Rail Cymru: A People's Railway for Wales', authored by Paul Salveson.

National Political and Policy Manager


This report begins to set out a vision for a railway in Wales that is owned by and for the people of Wales, bringing together communities, employees and passengers. The paper, authored by rail expert Prof. Paul Salveson, has been commissioned by The Co-operative Party, SERA, ASLEF, Co-operatives UK and Co-operatives and Mutuals Wales.

It advocates the Assembly Government holding on to the Arriva Trains Wales franchise in 2018, and putting in place a model that would run the service not for private gain.  This would see profit invested directly back in to the service itself rather than leaving Wales.

The co-operative movement believes that people should have a greater say over the services they use.  This paper starts to explain how this is possible in the context of rail in Wales. The proposal is backed by a recent survey by Co-operatives UK, which indicated that over 85% of respondents in Wales supported having more say in the way in which the rail services are delivered.

Vaughan Gething AM will be raising this proposal in a short debate in the Welsh Assembly later today, when he will ask for Welsh Ministers’ support in developing the proposals further.

Vaughan Gething AM said:

Rail Cymru marks a once in a generation opportunity to change for the better our rail service in Wales. No-one can pretend that the current franchise model serves the passenger well in terms of cost or quality. If we don’t demand a better service then we will get more of the same. The Rail Cymru report sets out how we could finally move towards a rail service that we all want and deserve.”

Mick Whelan, General Secretary of ASLEF stated:

“We welcome this report as a fruitful attempt to offer much-needed fresh thinking about how our members can best provide a reliable, accessible and affordable rail service to passengers. The current franchise system benefits shareholders. We want a railway that benefits Wales.”

Ed Mayo, Secretary General of Co-operatives UK, commented that:

“A co-operative model for rail in Wales can create a world leading service, in which passengers have a say, the staff can be motivated with a service that is designed not for profit but for people.”

The Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Maria Eagle MP, stated:

“The recent franchise fiasco has shown why this is precisely the right time to look at credible alternative options for delivering our rail services. This is an excellent report that sets out how co-operative values could benefit the rail industry, hand in hand with a commitment to devolution which I strongly share. This will form an important contribution to Labour’s Policy Review which is continuing to look at options for the future, once again putting passengers before profit.”

Karen Wilkie, Deputy General Secretary of the Co-operative Party & based in Wales, said:

“Co-ops and mutuals continue to grow as faith in the private sector wanes.  We want to bring the values and expertise of the co-op movement to new areas; to key services such as rail, where the needs of travellers, employees and the community have to mean more than profit for shareholders.  We know that a mutual model can work for rail, just as it already does so well for water and energy, co-ops shops and the co-op bank, and I urge the Welsh Government to develop this model.”

ENDS

1.      Full copy of report can be downloaded here

2.      The Co-operative Party is the political arm of the co-operative movement and Labour’s sister party. There are 9 Welsh Assembly Labour Co-operative members, 31 Labour Co-operative MPs and hundreds of Labour Co-operative local councillors.

3.      For more information please contact Joe Fortune, Parliamentary Officer, The  Co-operative Party  (j.fortune@party.coop – 07984 787947).