East Coast

17 January 2014

Mick Whelan has responded to the publication this morning of the government's preferred bidders for the East Coast main line. Mick said: ‘We are disappointed – but not surprised – that the Conservative-led coalition is rushing to reprivatise the successful, and publicly-owned, East Coast main line before a general election they fear they will lose.

‘In their rush to reprivatise, the government has trampled over the views of the people who live along the East Coast route, who they promised to consult, and the stakeholders, who want to keep the East Coast in public ownership, and they will lose a public sector comparator against which we can judge the performance of the private operators.
 
‘We have also seen before how things can go spectacularly wrong when this government tries to rush the bidding process.’
 
Poll after poll now shows a majority – the most recent was 70% – of people calling for the return of the railway to public ownership.
 
Mick said: ‘Privatisation has resulted in soaring fares, with hard-pressed passengers being forced to pay more and more money to get to work when wages are falling or, at best, standing still. And privatisation has resulted in more overcrowded trains and much older rolling stock.
 
‘What investment we have seen has come from the public purse; passengers and taxpayers funding investment while the privatised train companies make a private profit. Private companies should be about investment and risk. But there is no investment and there is no risk. It’s a disgrace!
 
‘Privatisation has, demonstrably, failed to deliver. But the East Coast main line, while in public ownership, will have delivered £1 billion back to the public purse by the time it is reprivatised
 
‘Most people in this country can see that it is much better for this country to have money coming back to the Treasury rather than leaking away in the form of dividends to private shareholders, many of them living overseas.’
 
The government’s preferred bidders include First Group plc; Keolis and Eurostar; and Stagecoach and Virgin.
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