The rail unions have built up some powerful muscle they can flex.
When Stephen Byers was spotted in a Westminster canteen just before Xmas, deep in talks with Mick Rix of Aslef, eyebrows were raised all round. We were all under the impression that trade unions had been virtually airbrushed out of the frame. Now here was one apparently on the best of terms with the transport secretary. One interpretation might be that, with the railways in particular, the government has dug itself into such a hole that it needs every bit of help it can get to winch itself out again.