East Coast

30 September 2013

East Coast

30 Sep 2013

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, has reacted to news that Eurostar is bidding to run the East Coast Main Line. The firm has announced it will launch a joint bid with the French company Keolis to run the rail service between London and Aberdeen. The East Coast has been run as a public sector enterprise since 2009 when National Express walked away from its contract to run the line.

Mick said: ‘National Express, when it handed back the keys, left the East Coast route in chaos. It has been run with spectacular success in the public sector ever since.

‘The East Coast Main Line delivers a better deal to the public purse – to each and every taxpayer in Britain – than any other railway line. It is a key tool against which we can measure the success or failure of the privatised train operating companies.

‘Each year these companies are moving hundreds of millions of pounds offshore in dividends – money which could and should be kept in this country to hold down fares and help investment in Britain’s vital railway network.

‘It’s shameful that a government that fears it will lose the next election is tripping over itself in its rush to reprivatise a successful public service. Passengers, staff, and the taxpayer are all set to lose out.’

Mick, along with Maria Eagle, the Shadow Transport Secretary, Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the TSSA, Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, and Diana Holland, assistant general secretary of Unite, have all urged the government to ‘keep the East Coast on track’ and in the public sector.

Maria Eagle said: ‘Despite the East Coast being recognised as the most cost-effective franchise by the independent rail regulator ORR, David Cameron wants to sell it off before the next election. It is a public sector success story which he does not want voters to know about. We do and need their help to keep it in public hands.’

Mick added: ‘At the moment the East Coast Main Line belongs to all of us – owned by the government on behalf of all tax payers. At the moment every pound made by East Coast is returned to us. Keeping the East Coast Main Line in public hands ensures that money from fares continues to be reinvested to improve the service. We want to keep it that way.’

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