Buses for trains? Unions say government plans will boost Go-Ahead revenues

Oliver Gill
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Getting the bus instead? The government is exploring the idea of a raft of rail replacement bus services (Source: Getty)

Unions have once again accused the owners of Southern rail of cashing in on the industrial action that has blighted the network.

During Parliamentary questions yesterday, rail minister Paul Maynard revealed officials were working with the bus and coach body, the confederation of passenger transport, to "determine how bus and coach operators can best assist with providing alternative transport".

Read more: Southern rail strike saga has cost the economy £300m already, says study

Prime Minister Theresa May is understood to have broached the sending in a raft of buses from Southern rail's majority owner Go-Ahead – one of the UK's largest bus operators.

But the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said the plans would treat Go-Ahead to a "Christmas bonus" of generated by the increased revenues of putting on the emergency services.

“It is bad enough that the nature of the Southern/GTR contact means that as each week of this fiasco goes by the tax payer is losing millions of pounds in lost revenue while GTR’s owners continue to get paid and are laughing all the way to the bank," said RMT boss Mick Cash.

Read more: The RMT wants a Christmas truce over Southern rail strike saga

Rather embarrassingly for the government, Southern rail has also questioned the plans.

“The wholesale replacement of 2,242 daily services for 300,000 passengers is not realistic," a spokesperson for Southern rail said. "However we’re looking at what we can do for passengers if this damaging and wholly unjustified strike goes ahead."

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