There is a deal to be done between the unions and our train operators - Anne-Marie Trevelyan

Today, 27,000 workers have spades in the ground, with so many of them working to reopen and transform stations. These will serve at the heart of our newest high-speed railway delivering additional capacity for the network, drawing in huge investment into the region – and of course, helping the whole country and our economy to grow.

From land to sea, the UK also has a historic leadership in underwriting prosperity and trade.

Shipping continues to drive the global economy today, just as it has done for millennia.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Our seas are by far the most important arteries for global trade, carrying over 95 per cent of all goods.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan is the Secretary of State for Transport. PIC: Leon Neal/Getty ImagesAnne-Marie Trevelyan is the Secretary of State for Transport. PIC: Leon Neal/Getty Images
Anne-Marie Trevelyan is the Secretary of State for Transport. PIC: Leon Neal/Getty Images

But while our maritime industry normally conducts its business beyond the public gaze, recent events have thrust global supply chains into the spotlight-and in particular, the importance of resilient and secure shipping routes.

At (the Department for) Transport, we are charged with ensuring the security of all networks that move goods, people and information around the world, and that underpin our way of life and our economy.

We have seen Putin weaponise food by trying to crush the economic and humanitarian criticality of Ukraine’s agricultural economy.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In blockading those Ukrainian ports, Putin has prevented the export of global grain supplies.

Our maxim is to ensure the UK is and remains the most secure and reliable nation to trade with globally.

Because at a time when Russian aggression is disrupting established trade routes, it has never been more important for the international community to come together and protect global shipping.

So, we will work with all our partners to ensure maritime trade and travel continues to operate safely, securely and sustainably, right around the world.

Now Conference, there is an elephant in the room today.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

We cannot ignore that nine out of ten train services were at a standstill last Saturday.

While our priority, our overwhelming objective, is to grow our economy and tackle the rising cost of living, we also have to deal with rolling strike action.

Strikes disrupt everyday life for everyone and slow down our prospects for growth.

The more quickly we can resolve these disputes, the sooner all our efforts can be spent on getting our economy motoring at full speed.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Despite soaring international energy prices, the war in Ukraine and the continued global impact of Covid, we are taking the necessary action to help families and businesses.

We can only do this through growth and having the infrastructure that makes this possible.

We want to transform the rail industry to make it sustainable for the next 100 years.

The very last thing our country needs right now is more damaging industrial disputes.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

My message to the trade union membership is simple: please take your seats at the negotiating table and let’s find a landing zone which we can all work with.

Punishing passengers and inflicting damage on our economy by striking is not the answer.

As a former Trade Secretary, I know something about making deals.

And I can tell you, there is a deal to be done between the unions and our train operators. It’s a deal that will require compromise. So I want to see positive proposals to bridge the differences.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As part of these, I am asking industry to launch consultations on reforming our ticket office provision across the country.

The way we buy everything from groceries to holidays has transformed over the last decade. Online shopping is increasingly the norm, and all our favourite retail stores are using the latest self-service tech, making the in-store experience quicker and smoother, with fewer queues and more convenience.

We’re seeing the same trend on the railways with a huge increase in online ticket sales – today, only 12 per cent of transactions take place at ticket offices. We need to be looking at ways to move with the trend and support our customers in the most effective way possible.

There will be some stations where the ticket office will be important to the running of the station. In other areas rail employees may be better in front of the glass helping passengers in other ways.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This is not about cutting jobs – this is about putting the passenger at the heart of the railway.

We all want the same outcome – to modernise the railway so that customers can choose rail as their preferred travel method with confidence and with ease.

I hope union leaders together with employers will work with us to deliver the much-needed changes and resolution, so that together we can grow the economy for everyone.

A shortened version of Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan's speech at the Conservative Party Conference.