State-owned rail firm Trenitalia has threatened to pull out of all UK rail franchises if it does not receive a bailout from the UK Government, it has been reported.
The Sunday Telegraph said that the firm, which is owned by the Italian Government, racked up a £20m loss last year on the London to Essex c2c franchise after forecast passenger growth failed to materialise.
Quoting ‘insiders’, presumably from the firm itself, the paper reported that Trenitalia is desperate to change the terms of the franchise, and is in talks with the Department for Transport (DfT).
The Telegraph also wrote that company executives are understood to be angered by ‘rigid contractual obligations that fail to take into account flexible working habits that mean staff are more likely to work from home than commute into the office’.
‘Insiders’ told the paper that if the firm did not receive the necessary concessions from ministers on c2c, it may decide to withdraw from the UK completely.
Trenitalia also runs services on the new West Coast Partnership under the Avanti brand, which the firm said was ‘was chosen to represent our values’.
The RMT union accused Trenitalia of trying to force the British people into a bailout.
General secretary Mick Cash said: ‘The crisis on Britain's privatised railways is deepening by the day. The Tories have been forced to strip Arriva of the Northern Franchise, South Western Railway is on financial life support and likely to be the next to fall and now Trenitalia have taken C2C to the brink. This madness cannot be allowed to continue.’
‘With the publication of the Williams Report repeatedly delayed we can smell panic right at the heart of Government as even hard-line Tories start to realise that the only solution that can keep trains running is to bring these basket-case franchises into public ownership.’
The DfT refused to comment.