Labour Conference backs ASLEF East Coast motion

01 October 2009

The Labour Party conference today voted unanimously for an ASLEF emergency motion, backed by the TSSA, calling for the East Coast main line to be retained in the public sector – and not re-let to a private sector organisation - following National Express abandoning its franchise


Labour’s executive committee did not take a position on the ASLEF demand, and transport minister Chris Mole pointed out that the franchise would be in public hands for two years while ‘the position was monitored’ – but conference delegates had no time for fudges or reservations. Not a single hand went up against our union’s proposal.


National Organiser Simon Weller spoke compellingly as he put the case in a warmly-received speech on the final morning of Labour’s 2009 conference.


The full text of the ASLEF motion was:


‘Conference is concerned that on 23rd September the deadline for the CVC-Cosmens consortium to make a formal offer for National Express was extended for a second time until October 9th. Conference notes that the Secretary of State for Transport will then be required to determine the public interest in terms of the future of the Group’s UK rail and bus divisions, including the East Coast, East Anglia and C2C rail franchises.


Conference applauds the Labour government’s decision to take the East Coast mainline franchise back into public hands for the second time in three years following National Express’s failed stewardship of the economically and strategically vital route and believes that the ease with which National Express was able to renege on its contractual obligation to pay the government £1.4 billion by 2014 demonstrates that the rail franchising system as currently constituted cannot deliver the investment or certainty which passengers or taxpayers deserve.


Conference supports the policy of our party, as determined by the July 2008 National Policy Forum and adopted by Conference 2008, which states: ‘we will examine all factors and models for the operation of train operating services, including not-for-profit models, which will benefit passengers and taxpayers.’


Conference acknowledges that a July 2009 Transport Select Committee report urged the Government to retain the East Coast Main Line franchise in the public sector to provide a benchmark against which to compare the performance of other types of franchises both in terms of financial viability and passenger service quality.


Conference therefore believes that the East Coast franchise should be retained as a public company and run on a not-for-profit basis rather than re-let to the private sector.’



National Organiser Simon Weller speaking on the emergency motion:

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