Profit boost for sacked franchise

29 July 2011

National Express, whose performance on the East Coast route was so abysmal two years ago that the government took away its franchise, is happily scooping profits from its other rail interests. It has posted a jump in its half-year profits to £95.5 million. ASLEF called on the government to ban the company from any UK franchises in the light of its performance on the East Coast, but, in the words of the union’s Keith Norman, ‘it has been allowed to continue to cherry-pick where it sees profits, and discard when the going gets rough’.

This six month’s £95.5 million profits have largely come from National Express’ c2c commuter line between Fenchurch Street and Essex, and the East Anglia route into Liverpool Street.

Keith Norman says it is a disgrace that a company can fail so abjectly in one franchise, but continue to cream profits off other routes it chooses. ‘This is the final proof that franchising is a ludicrously inefficient system entirely biased in favour of the company at the expense of the customer and the staff,’ Keith says. ‘It is crazy to allow a company that has failed abjectly to basically open a new shop next door. At least they should be banned from UK rail franchises until they have repaid their debts to UK rail passengers.’

Meanwhile National Express chief executive Dean Finch says, ‘We hope in time we can rehabilitate ourselves and win more rail franchises.’

‘I bet he does,’ says Keith. ‘Everyone would like a licence to print money, assured that you can’t make a loss.’

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