Tuesday, 3 January 2017
The Absurdity At The Heart
Mikey Smith writes:
British taxpayers are paying for nationalised rail services in Europe, and the French, Dutch and German people would like to say thank you.
And it's nothing to do with us still being in the EU.
As ticket prices skyrocket again today, a new video [in the link] points out the absurdity at the heart of Britain's privatised railways.
Huge chunks of Britain's rail operating companies are now owned by the French, Dutch and German governments.
A chunk of the profits made from hiking fares in the UK are paid in dividends to state-owned companies such as Keolis, Arriva and Abellio.
The video, released by the TSSA union, points out that because Britain's privatised rail companies receive massive government subsidies - some £4.8 billion in 2015-16 - even taxpayers who never use trains are effectively subsidising European services.
Meanwhile, train companies have creamed off around £3.5billion in profits for shareholders over the last 10 years.
In the wry clip, a series of people from European countries offer their heartfelt thanks to British taxpayers for making their train journeys cheaper.
The character from the Netherlands tells viewers: "In 2012 we got £3 million just from Greater Anglia."
And the German and French characters note: "But before you say "Ah, we've left the EU." - that doesn't make a difference."
Keolis is 70% owned by the French government's national rail service SNCF.
It owns 35% of Govia, which runs the Govia Thameslink, Southern, Southeastern and London Midland franchises.
It also held a 45% stake in First TransPennine Express from 2004 until March last year, operates London's DLR service and is part of a consortium that runs Nottingham's trams.
Arriva UK Trains, which operates a string of services including Chiltern, CrossCountry, Grand Central, Northern, Arriva Rail London and Arriva Trains Wales, is owned by Deutsche Bahn - whose sole shareholder is the Federal Republic of Germany.
Abellio is the international arm of the state owned Dutch national rail operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen.