Another day, yet another headache for beleaguered rail commuters with the news that unions are pressing ahead with above-inflation pay claims.
Commuters will not begrudge hard-working front-line rail staff a penny of their modest increase, but they will feel a sense of injustice at being the ones who have to pay for it, rather than it being well planned by management, and properly funded by Government.
Instead it is inevitable that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s tussle with union bosses will result in commuters, already stung by plans to increase rail fares by 3.2 per cent next year, who will lose out again.
While the current travails affecting the region’s railway network are certainly not the fault of the majority of those working on the railway, union bosses would be well-advised to consider their pay claims in the context of a summer of utter chaos and misery for passengers, the vast majority of whom will have had their family and professional lives turned upside down by the transport omnishambles overseen by a Minister not fit for the office he holds.
Mick Whelan, leader of the train drivers’ union Aslef, is right to call for Mr Grayling to stop ‘turning a blind eye’ to the North’s broken transport system as he called for more money to improve rail infrastructure, continue with much-needed electrification work and reduce passenger fares.
However his counterparts in the Rail, Maritime and Transport union who are simultaneously arguing for pay increases of over 3.5 per cent for staff, should make that demand, too, of Mr Grayling, not the poor passengers who have been short-changed by a woefully inadequate service for far too long.
Their demands, along with those of this newspaper, are simple; we want a well-run and reliable railway network run by properly-paid staff who can put on sufficient services at a fair price.