Saturday, 14 November 2015

Overground to Berlin and Hong Kong

London Overground profits are being used to subsidise fares in Hong Kong and Berlin, damning research found yesterday.

The profits could instead be used to cut fares for passengers back home by as much as 6.5 per cent a year, MPs say.

Instead, foreign railways will continue to profit at the expense of London passengers, rail union RMT warned, in a study marking the eighth anniversary of the setting-up of London Overground.

The union pointed out that all the bidders for the next Overground contract come from abroad — French or German state railways, Hong Kong railway and a Singapore-based transport group.

MPs have tabled a motion in Parliament stating that although London Overground is portrayed as a public rail service, this “masks the reality that London Overground is in fact a private rail franchise jointly operated by subsidiaries of Hong Kong and German state railways.” 

The MPs say they are “dismayed” that profits “could have been used to fund an average year-on-year fare cut of 6.5 per cent for Londoners but instead are ultimately being used to support the railways of Berlin and and Hong Kong.” 

An RMT demand for “London passengers to be put before profit by allowing London Overground services to be operated directly in public ownership” is being supported by MPs.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Clearly, if London Overground was publicly owned there would be scope to slash fares by 6.5 per cent a year rather than seeing that money shipped to Berlin and Hong Kong to prop up their rail operations.”

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