Action for Rail | Stop the EU imposing rail privatisation – TAKE ACTION!


Stop the EU imposing rail privatisation – TAKE ACTION!

Email your MEP before 12 December ahead of a critical vote on the future of our railways.

MEPs have a critical vote on the future of our railways 12-15 December 2016. Privatisation of rail passenger services could be imposed on all member states if new EU regulations are passed into legislation. Even though the UK is leaving the EU, regulations in the Fourth Railway Package could still apply to the UK for years to come. The Fourth Railway Package would make the competitive tendering of rail passenger services mandatory, and enforce the separation of train operations from infrastructure management – which has led to increased fragmentation, inefficiency and extra costs in the UK.

The Fourth Railway Package could stop a future UK government from establishing alternative ways of delivering our railways that are in the best interests of passengers, taxpayers and citizens. At present, member states can choose how to run their rail passenger services, on the whole. The Fourth Railway Package would remove this choice, and could make it impossible to run a successful publicly owned railway such as we had with East Coast. We know from bitter experience that rail privatisation has failed to deliver on its promises of cheaper fares, better services and a better deal for taxpayers.

The Fourth Railway Package must be stopped.

What can you do?

Please email your MEP before 12 December to let them know that you want them to vote against the Fourth Railway Package

SUBJECT | Stop the Fourth Railway Package

I am writing to raise my concerns about the Fourth Railway Package and to ask you to vote against the package in the Plenary taking place 12-15 December 2016.

Even though the UK will be leaving the European Union, I am aware that the proposals in the package may still affect our railways for years to come. I am particularly concerned that the Fourth Railway Package will make the competitive award of public service contracts for rail services mandatory by amending Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007, and also allow general access to run domestic passenger services through the amendment of Directive 2012/34/EU.

At present, the regulations enable democratically elected governments in EU Member States to choose whether to directly award public service contracts, including to a national operator, or to organise a process of competitive tendering. The Fourth Railway Package will remove this choice from Member States, and restrict the options available to any in-coming government that wants to implement alternatives to the failed model of privatisation that we have in the UK.

The Commission also states that the proposals will ensure that: “institutional separation between infrastructure managers and railway undertakings (without ownership relations between the two types of entity) would become the applicable rule by default.”

Evidence such the Rebuilding Rail report by Transport for Quality of Life and The Great Train Robbery by the CRESC team at the University of Manchester shows that the break up and privatisation of the UK railways has not delivered a better deal for passengers and taxpayers.

These reports highlight the dramatic cost escalation as a result of fragmentation, the increased burden on the public purse through both direct and indirect subsidy to private train companies, passengers faced with the highest commuter rail fares in Europe, and minimal private investment as profits are distributed as shareholder dividends instead of being reinvested in the service. The reports also demonstrate that passenger growth in the UK has not been due to privatisation, but to economic growth and massive public investment instead.

In 2016, a survey by Which? revealed that 15 out of 22 train companies received a total ‘customer score’ of less than 60% on areas including value for money, punctuality, reliability, availability of seating and overall train condition. A YouGov survey for Action for Rail in 2015 showed that over 60% of respondents supported public ownership of train operating companies.

The East Coast Main Line, under Directly Operated Railways, demonstrated that publicly owned and operated railways in the UK can deliver better services while receiving much lower subsidies than private operators and returning significantly more to the taxpayer, to be reinvested in the service. Such options will be closed to future elected governments if the Fourth Railway Package proposals are implemented.

I would like to ask you to vote against the Fourth Railway Package in December, in light of existing evidence which demonstrates the failure of privatisation of rail passenger services in the UK. In voting this way this will help ensure that future governments will have the freedom to implement alternative models for their railways in line with the interests of passengers, taxpayers and their citizens.


Paul Bull


2 thoughts on “Action for Rail | Stop the EU imposing rail privatisation – TAKE ACTION!

  1. Thank you for your email in relation to the Fourth Railway Package, the contents of which I note.

    The Fourth Railway Package is an excellent example of why the UK voted to leave the EU in June of this year. It is not for the EU to determine how our railways are ran, it is for the sovereign government to make that decision.

    Therefore, please be advised that I will be voting against this.

    Best wishes,

    Julia Reid

    Dr Julia Reid PhD MEP (UKIP South West Counties & Gibraltar)
    Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) Group
    European Parliament


  2. 14 December 2016 Our Ref: CM/JC/BULL01016/

    Dear Paul

    Thank you for contacting me about the ‘Fourth Railway Package’. The European Parliamentary Labour Party believes this is an issue of great importance and my colleague Lucy Anderson MEP, who leads for the EPLP on transport issues, has been following developments closely. Labour MEPs have tried hard to ensure that the mistakes made in Britain when rail privatisation was pushed through are not repeated at the EU level. We also share the concerns raised in your letter and want to try and make sure that in the future we are able to shift away from the current UK model and bring back passenger train services into public ownership.

    The ‘Fourth Railway Package’ was proposed by the European Commission in 2013. It is the most recent element of a legislative programme which began in 2001, as part of the European Commission’s commitment to improve efficiency, safety, integration of rail systems, and cross-border rail travel in the Europe. You may be aware that much of the Fourth Railway Package concerns technical, safety and Europe-wide co-ordination issues that were not generally the subject of opposition and can indeed be pursued separately to issues concerning competition.

    However, a regulation as part of the Fourth Railway Package regarding the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail, along with an accompanying directive on market access and governance of railway undertakings, have been highly controversial in the European Parliament and the Member States. These aspects of the Package are known as the ‘Political Pillar’. In summary, they provide for a framework for rights of ‘open access’ to rail lines for commercial train operators, as well as reinforcing a default position of mandatory tendering of passenger service contracts.

    In the light of Labour Party policy on public ownership of rail, and the lack of protection in the ‘Political Pillar’ measures for staff when services are contracted-out, Labour MEPs voted for their rejection in the full European Parliament vote today, 14 December 2016. Unfortunately, despite significant support across a number of political groups, we were unsuccessful overall in defeating these measures, which will now come into force generally across the European Union by the end of 2019, subject to transitional arrangements.

    Now that the Parliament has approved the ‘Political Pillar’ of the Package, governments of the EU’s Member States will have to consider how to transpose its provisions into their national policies and law. It is likely that the current Government in the UK will be seeking to start doing this relatively quickly, as they are in favour of the new measures, regardless of the terms and timing of ‘Brexit’. But we can nevertheless assure you that we will be carefully monitoring the situation throughout this process to ensure that Labour’s priorities regarding rail services are protected as much as possible.

    Many thanks again for letting me know your views on this issue.

    With best wishes

    Clare Moody
    Labour MEP for the South West and Gibraltar


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