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Boris Johnson opened cabinet this morning with a message saying reform in the rail industry was essential. In the past we normally only found out what the PM said at cabinet when No 10 (or other ministers) briefed it out, but for the last few weeks Johnson has been using cabinet as a photo opportunity and he has invited in a camera crew to record his opening spiel. Here are some of the points he made this morning, from what was broadcast by Sky News.
But if we’re going to do these colossal investments, as we are and as we must, we’ve got to have reform … It cannot be right that some ticket offices, I think, are selling roughly one ticket per hour. We need to get those staff out from behind the plate glass onto the platforms interacting with passengers, with customers, in the way that they want to do.
And we need the union barons to sit down with Network Rail and the train companies and get on with it.
And I say this to the country as a whole, we need to get ready to stay the course. Because these reforms, these improvements in the way we run our railways, are in the interest of the travelling public. They will help to cut costs of fare payers up and down the country.
If we don’t do this, these great companies, this great industry, will face further financial pressure, it will go bust and the result will be they have to hike up the cost of tickets still further.
I want to be clear – we are not loading higher fares on passengers to carry on paying for working practices that date back in some cases to the 19th century.