Grayling’s rail plans threaten passenger safety, says Unite

Grayling’s rail plans threaten passenger safety, says Unite

06 December 2016

Plans to strip Network Rail of complete control of England's railway tracks are a retrograde step that raises the spectre of the Hatfield train crash in 2000 which happened under the watch of the privately-owned Railtrack.

Unite, the country’s largest union, said that the plans being outlined by transport secretary Chris Grayling today (Tuesday 6 December) were ‘a recipe for further fragmentation of the UK’s rail system with adverse implications for passenger safety’.

Chris Grayling wants the publicly-owned Network Rail to share its responsibility for running the tracks with the private train operating companies.

Unite regional officer Hugh Roberts said: “Politicians, such as Chris Grayling, have short memories and have conveniently forgotten the Hatfield rail crash in October 2000 when four people were killed and more than 70 injured which happened under the aegis of privately- owned Railtrack.

“Since Network Rail took over the infrastructure and maintenance of the rail system, safety has greatly improved – so there is a big question mark as to why Chris Grayling is taking this retrograde step by wishing to involve private train operating companies."

Unite national officer for the rail industry Tony Murphy said: “Unite does not believe that privatisation dogma should trump passenger safety, especially at a time when public opinion is increasingly in favour of rail re-nationalisation.

“As recently as January this year, a poll by pressure group Action for Rail revealed that 62 per cent of people favoured the public ownership of the train operating companies.

“It should not be forgotten that ‘failing’ Grayling was the minister who brought chaos to the prison system when he was justice secretary – he now intends an encore at the Department of Transport. Today’s plans should hit the buffers.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.