Why rail workers are protesting at Birmingham New Street

Members of Britain’s largest rail union say the government and rail bosses are looking to slash services and cut jobs

West Midlands rail workers gathered outside Birmingham New Street this morning (Wednesday, 9 March) to warn about the impact of job cuts on services in the industry.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) gathered at New Street, as well as stations in London, Bristol, Manchester and Leeds to warn passengers that despite the recent increase in fares, rail companies and the government are “intent on cutting thousands of frontline staff.”

Activists handed out leaflets at New Street to draw attention to job losses which workers say will lead to safety issues on railways.

“People are paying more for less”

John Watson, Regional Admin Manager Midlands

Speaking to BirminghamWorld at New Street this morning, John Watson, Regional Admin Manager for RMT Midlands, said: Rail fares have been increased by an average of 3.8% as of 1 March.

“Fares are going up every single year and people are starting to pay more and actually getting less for their money.

“Services and staffing levels are being cut, the visibility and availability of staff are all going down and people are paying more and getting less for their money.

“We’re protesting and asking the government to cut the fares, invest in the railways in the UK and keep the money in the UK.”

He added: “We want the UK government to invest in railway to provide a publicly funded discounted cheap railway to allow people to travel. Everything is going up and it’s about time this government realised we can have one of the best railway systems in the world if it’s invested in properly.”

John Watson, Regional Admin Manager Midlands and Barrington Kelly hand leaflets out at New Street

What has the government said about the protests?

A Department for Transport spokeswoman, said: “The safety of staff and customers will always be our main priority, however, to grow our rail network, and adapt to changing passenger needs, the industry must create a flexible and sustainable workforce.

”The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail outlines the modernisation needed to achieve this and improve the customer experience, which could include changing what some staff at stations do, or how they do it, to ensure passengers get the services they deserve.”

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. BirminghamWorld is Birmingham’s latest news website, championing everything that is great about our city - reporting on news, lifestyle and sport. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going.