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Last Updated: Friday, 17 September, 2004, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
Union puts on pressure over rail
First North Western train
Unions want to see renationalisation of the railways
One of the biggest rail workers' unions is to make an attempt to bring the railways back into public ownership at next month's Labour Party conference.

The Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) is calling for an "integrated, accountable and publicly owned" railway.

It will introduce an amendment at the conference calling for changes.

The resolution is expected to be backed by the train drivers' union Aslef and other supporters at the conference.

The TSSA says private train companies are receiving more cash than British Rail but passengers are not benefiting.

'Clear red water'

BBC labour affairs correspondent Stephen Cape said TSSA chairman Gerry Doherty's success in getting the issue on the conference agenda could embarrass some ministers.

He said other big unions were also planning to raise major concerns at the conference in Brighton.

Those involved in the Warwick Labour Party policy forum in July plan to submit motions in support of commitments made by the government on pensions, manufacturing, public services and employment rights.

Our correspondent said a senior union source had told him other concerns would also be flagged up.

"The Labour conference will be seen as an election rally," he said.

"Unions want to put clear red water between the party and the Tories."

The government already proposes taking more direct control of the national rail system as part of a major shake-up outlined in a White Paper in July.

But the proposed changes stop short of the renationalisation demanded by the 32,000 members of the TSSA and other rail unions.

Instead, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) set up four years ago is being scrapped and most of its powers are moving to Transport Secretary Alistair Darling.

The railway sector has been dogged by upheaval since the first steps to privatisation over ten years ago.

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