THE RMT has voiced fears that train catering is increasingly under threat, even while passengers are returning to the railway.
The union surveyed more than 1000 catering staff, and the responses suggest that 85 per cent are worried that catering services are set to be cut back further.
There has already been a significant reduction in catering services since privatisation 25 years ago. Nearly all restaurant areas on trains have been abolished, and the traditional buffet counter is also tending to disappear in favour of trolleys.
The RMT said further reductions in catering risk ‘permanently pushing passengers away from the sustainable rail network’, and claimed ‘short-sighted and regressive cuts are being planned’, which would also have implications for jobs.
General Secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘For all the talk from politicians and company bosses of making the post Covid railway more attractive, this survey of staff who actually deliver a key service shows that workers believe damaging cuts are on the way. These latest possible cuts mean you will be waiting longer for a cup of tea or sandwich or you might not even get one at all. As importantly, rail caterers are passenger assistance professionals. They provide advice and provide extra support and safety assurance.
‘As our survey shows, rail caterers know that these cuts are about cutting costs, not improving the service for passengers. We should be expanding, not cutting, rail catering and bringing all provision in-house. Rail catering should be the norm, not an exception.’