Unite, which represents tens of thousands of transport workers across the UK, is calling on the government to provide immediate financial support to Manchester’s Metrolink and Merseyrail, to ensure that they can continue to run a service during the pandemic.
Metro mayors warning
Unite made its call after the North West metro mayors (Andy Burnham for Manchester and Steve Rotheram for Liverpool) held a joint press conference to warn today (Tuesday 20 April) that both services may have to be mothballed due to a decline in usage. Passenger numbers have declined by up to 95 per cent during the coronavirus crisis.
Unlike bus and rail services, light rail and tram services have not received any government support during the COVID-19 crisis.
Decline in passengers
Unite, which represents the majority of the workforce at Manchester Metrolink, has been involved in a decision to furlough 190 tram drivers, 20 engineers and 15 support staff. Services have been reduced to every 20 minutes with a 40 per cent reduction in mileage.
Unite also represents administration and some other workers at Merseyrail.
Unite regional officer John Boughton said: “Metrolink and Merseyrail are continuing to play a crucial role in ensuring that key workers can continue to get to and from work.
“If these services were mothballed it would worsen the lives of thousands of workers who are already on the edge due to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic causing huge problems in their efforts to get to work.
“Without Metrolink and Merseytravel key workers would be forced to use the already struggling bus service, dramatically increasing journey times and making social distancing very difficult to achieve.
“It is essential that the government provides similar support to light rail and tram services to that which has already been provided to trains and buses.
“All vital transport infrastructure services need and deserve support during these highly challenging times.”