Public pain, private gain: EU rail proposals mean further theft of public property


Left MEPs have attacked the EU’s Fourth Railway Package for promoting the further liberalisation of Europe’s railways. The ‘package’ of measures will mean more job losses, reductions in tyhen quality of services and an increase in pollution.


Merja Kyllönen, who from 2011-2014 was Finland’s transport minister, said that “the reckless liberalisation of the railway market is definitely not the shortcut to happiness. But I don’t believe that insecurity about the future is in the interests of public service or state companies either. I see that it is necessary to create a stable environment and a predictable legal framework which encourages railway operators to innovate, evolve and invest. There is an evident need and strong environmental drivers to make a comprehensive shift to rail and also to integrate the rail transport into multimodal travel chains enabled by new transport services."


Left Group (GUE/NGL) Shadow Rapporteur on of the Railway Package reports, Curzio Maltese, commented that “for more than 20 years, services have been liberalised in Europe with the promise that this will create more jobs – especially for young people, that public debts will be relieved and that the quality of the services for citizens will be improved thanks to greater competition. Unfortunately, a huge quantity of EU data shows that exactly the opposite has happened. This liberalisation has produced millions of unemployed people – especially amongst the young and led to unbalanced public budgets. This is the result of profits being privatised and losses being 'socialised', which is to say that profits are being reaped by private companies while losses are being absorbed by the public. The quality of rail services has also been reduced almost everywhere because the only competition that you have encouraged is social dumping. With the Fourth Railway Package you want to pursue this illegal and ruinous road, this because it paves the way to a jobless future for the new generations. We will vote against this liberal fraud, which under a thin veneer of modernisation and liberalisation, presents a leap backwards over several decades when it comes to workers’ rights, service quality, citizens' safety and the rights of people with disabilities."


Left Group Shadow Rapporteur on another of the Railway Package reports, Tania González Peñas, added that “one of the objectives of the white paper on transport is to achieve an efficient, sustainable transport system that drastically reduces the emission of greenhouse gases. Railways are a useful way to achieve this objective. It is therefore imperative that we invest in this means of transport and make it accessible to all citizens. The Fourth Railway Package proposes a regulatory and technical update that is necessary to achieve a better integrated network throughout the European Union. However, at the same time it also proposes more liberalisation of the rail sector.

"When the United Kingdom privatised its railway, services and materials deteriorated, affecting safety; the prices and wages of the executives of the privatised companies multiplied, and it ended up costing the state twice as much as when it was public. In the face of such a disaster, the Labour government at the time decided to renationalise the rail infrastructure. If a useful public service that has lacked public investment is privatised, the result is that the companies must obtain their profits by raising prices and cutting the quality of services and working conditions. Then, it is likely that in order to compensate, governments – such as the Spanish government – will let the less travelled lines die. Approving the Fourth Railway Package achieves the opposite of the objective of the white paper on transport: promoting private transport by road. This is inefficient, polluting and unsustainable."