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RMT - National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers

12/22/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 12/22/2020 06:30

RMT calls for travel refunds on open-access services

RMT calls for urgent confirmation that the Government will fund Christmas travel refunds on open-access services

RAIL UNION RMT is today seeking urgent confirmation that the Government will fund Christmas travel refunds on open-access operators' Hull Trains and Grand Central services, following the recent change in Covid-19 regulations.

The Government has said it will 'provide cash refunds for domestic rail and coach tickets' but uncertainty remains as to whether it is underwriting refunds for open-access services, as, unlike the franchised Train Operating Companies, these operators are not subject to publicly funded Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements (ERMAs).

Therefore, in the letter to the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, RMT General Secretary Mick Cash will say:

'Through the ERMAs, the Government has rightly recognised that our rail network will play a key role in our recovery from Covid-19, and it is vital that the open-access services are also protected. I am therefore calling on you to confirm, as a matter of urgency, that the Government will underwrite the costs of Christmas travel cancellations and refunds on open-access services.'

RMT believes that Government action is needed to protect the short and long-term viability of these services, and the letter goes on to say:

'Both Hull Trains and Grand Central services provide vital links between London and the North, and must be protected now and in the future. It would be disastrous for the Government's 'levelling up' agenda and our decarbonisation goals if these key connections for the North were put in jeopardy.'

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:

'It is absolutely right that passengers should not be left out of pocket following the change in regulations regarding travel over the Christmas period.

'Both Hull Trains and Grand Central services provide vital connections between the North and London, and it is imperative that they are protected both now and in the future, as part of the UK's green recovery from Covid-19.

'Therefore, I have written to the Transport Secretary, calling on him to urgently confirm that the Government will cover the costs of Christmas travel refunds on open-access routes, and reverse its decision to provide no Covid-19 financial support for these services.'

Ends.

Notes for Editors

The full letter to Grant Shapps MP reads:

'Dear Grant,

Passenger refunds for Christmas travel on open-access rail services

I am writing to you following the Government's recent announcement that it will 'provide cash refunds for domestic rail and coach tickets' bought for travel during the previous Christmas travel window, and to seek clarity regarding Government funding for refunds on open-access services. I am concerned that the announcement provides no guarantee of financial support to fund refunds for these operators, who, unlike the franchised Train Operating Companies (TOCs), are not having their operations fully funded by Government through Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements (ERMAs).

As you are of course, aware, unlike the TOCs, the open-access operators Hull Trains and Grand Central have received no Government funding during the Covid-19 emergency. Both companies suspended operations at points during the pandemic and have implemented job losses. It would be yet another blow for open-access services if the operators did not receive any financial support to cover the cost of Christmas travel cancellations.

It is of course absolutely right that passengers should not be left out of pocket following the change in regulations announced on 19th December, and therefore RMT is calling on the Government to ensure that it underwrites the cost of Christmas travel ticket cancellations and refunds for open-access services. Furthermore, it is clear that Covid-19 is going to impact the rail sector for months to come, and the Government must reverse its decision to provide no Covid-19 emergency funding to protect the short and long term viability of Hull Trains and Grand Central services.

Through the ERMAs, the Government has rightly recognised that our rail network will play a key role in our recovery from Covid-19, and it is vital that the open-access services are also protected. I am therefore calling on you to confirm, as a matter of urgency, that the Government will underwrite the costs of Christmas travel cancellations and refunds on open-access services.

Both Hull Trains and Grand Central services provide vital links between London and the North, and must be protected now and in the future. It would be disastrous for the Government's 'levelling up' agenda and our decarbonisation goals if these key connections for the North were put in jeopardy.

I look forward to hearing from you at the earliest opportunity.

Mick Cash

General Secretary'