Rail firm could cut up to 51 jobs at York train operator, union warns

One of the first Grand Central HST services at York Station. Photograph: YorkMix
23 Sep 2020 @ 7.38 am
| Transport

The UK’s biggest rail workers’ union has pledged to stand by its members after being told of job cuts set to be made by an operator with a base in York.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) has received notification that Grand Central intends to make 51 posts redundant, the majority of which are linked to the scrapping of the service between Blackpool and London, announced earlier this month.

The union pledged on Saturday to do “everything possible” to ensure its members still have employment on the railway in the future, and will push the Government to stop open access providers from being “hung out to dry”.

General secretary Mick Cash said: “Make no mistake, RMT will do everything possible to ensure that our members’ livelihoods are protected and that they will still have employment on the railway in the future.

“Open access operators are at huge risk in this Covid pandemic and the Government must intervene to protect both jobs and these much-needed services.”

Grand Central scrapped its plans for a service between Blackpool and London earlier this month due to the economic uncertainty of Covid-19.

Not feasible

Only a small number of staff at the firm’s York offices are said to be affected by the redundancy consultation process.

The firm’s managing director, Richard McClean, said earlier: “Despite months of work to adjust our costs and monitor travel behaviour for signs of change it became more obvious to us that to invest in what is essentially a start-up enterprise in this climate was simply not feasible and therefore we reluctantly reached the very tough decision to cease the project permanently.”

It comes after news that more train services could be nationalised when emergency contracts, introduced in March to keep businesses afloat during the pandemic, expire on Sunday.

The Government-controlled Operator of Last Resort (OLR) is reportedly on standby to take over more services if firms hand back their contracts.

The measures have cost taxpayers at least £3.5 billion.