Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Why the urgency to re-privatise East Coast mainline?

It is difficult not to think that the government’s rush to re-privatise the East Coast mainline is not due to concerns over the excellent service provided since the line went back into public ownership in 2009.

Directly Owned Railways (DOR) posted results showing turnover of £665.8 million, an increase of £20 million, leaving a profit before tax and service payments to the Department for Transport of £195.7 million, an increase of £13 million.


Passenger journeys at East Coast, which runs trains from London to Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland, increased by 2.1%


Customer satisfaction at East Coast rose by 2%, and the latest punctuality figures were its best since records began in 1999.


Never mind all that though, the government must push on with its dogma driven back to the future policies by getting the line back into private hands.

So the three shortlisted bidders are East Coast Trains Ltd ( First Group plc); Keolis/Eurostar East Coast Limited (Keolis (UK) Limited and Eurostar International Limited); and Inter City Railways Limited (Stagecoach Transport Holdings Limited and Virgin Holdings Limited).

Imagine for a moment a railway run for the benefit of the travelling public and not shareholders in private companies. Lower ticket prices, punctual trains and well rewarded staff, what a terrible precedent that would set. If it works on East Coast, it would be being demanded for other lines – what next a nationally owned and publically run rail system?

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