A new era for London Rail??
I remember our esteemed Mayor saying that we needed more privatisation like a hole in the head. Perhaps he already has one and this thought has escaped from it.
The East London Line and the North London Railway will be put out to tender, he tells us. Now correct me if I am wrong, but ‘put out to tender’ means privatisation.
The North London Railway will become a part of TfL in November 2007. The new East London Line extension will link up with this when completed in 2010, with the service rebranded as ‘London Overground’. Four companies have been asked to tender for the new service linking Richmond to West Croydon via Dalston Junction in the first part of a planned orbital rail network for London.
The North London Railway is made up of the line from Richmond to North Woolwich, the line from London Euston to Watford Junction, the line from Willesden Junction to Clapham Junction via Kensington Olympia and the Baking to Gospel Oak line. It is already in private hands - Silverlink - but is approaching the end of its franchise, which would have been an ideal opportunity to bring it back into public ownership.
The East London line currently runs from Whitechapel to New Cross / New Cross Gate and is to be extended South to West Croydon and North to Dalston Junction.
We are told that the only way to fund the extension is by privatisation. Pure bunk: there is a fortune to be made out of this rail link. Why the private companies would be clambering over themselves if there was no money in it is the big question.
The real reason for privatisation is to further fragment the railways and drive down the pay and conditions of the staff. That is where the big profits come from. It is a clear attack on our unions and the workforce.
This privatisation must be stopped. It is the first shot in what will become the break-up of London Underground as we know it. In a few years they may want to extend the Met line past Rickmansworth, the District line past Wimbledon or the Central past Ealing Broadway. Will they use this as an excuse to sell those lines off? It may not even need extensions to sell off parts of the system in blocks.
The workforces on the East London line and North London Railway now face uncertainty and stress as their stations and depots are handed over to profiteers.
If the privateers can make a fat profit out of running these lines, why can't TfL rake in that profit in for reinvestment on our rail system? It makes more sense to keep the lines a part of LUL and to keep a central control of them. Letting private industry run it is a recipe for lack of investment, poor maintenance and future disasters.