LONDON – Prime Minister Theresa May will grant the rail company taking over the Greater Manchester franchise powers to reject management by senior staff in the future, after Transport for the North struck a change to staffing levels in line with Boris Johnson’s May budget cuts.
After Transport for the North CEO, Dennis Millard, refused to open up to strike and dispute settlement with the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, Johnson stripped him of powers under the franchise contract.
The Ministry of Transport said the transfer of power was part of the franchise contract to avoid “attempts to interfere in the governance and operating of the franchise”.
Johnson said: “The lessons from the train drivers’ dispute in the Leicestershire franchise were clear – if companies refuse to open to mediation and don’t wish to comply with binding agreement, new franchise agreements must be suspended.
“I have ordered Transport for the North to withdraw support for Dennis Millard from our franchises and revert to external managers if they are not up to the job of running franchises. I am also looking at options for removal of control of franchises from Transport for the North.”
Johnson added: “It is vital that we have reliable, safe and modern rail service which I believe my new Government is providing.”
Transport for the North Chief Operating Officer, Nick Wood, said: “Transport for the North work hard to deliver a good service to passengers and we’ve already conducted extensive risk assessments with our management team at Manchester Central. They have undertaken up to 4,000 hours of training, to prepare for running London Midland and ScotRail to wider standards.”
The union said: “It’s a sacking, not a transfer of power, and would be seen as stripping an employee of their rights under Article 33.1 of the BtU [British Transport Union] constitution if it was in the public sector.”
“The minister should immediately cancel the franchise and oversee the restructuring of the corporation.”