East Coast

06 June 2013

Simon Burns, Minister of State for Transport, told the House of Commons: ‘National Express and its subsidiaries are permitted to submit for the pre-qualification process to run passenger rail services in all franchise competitions including the East Coast Main Line.’

Mick Whelan said: ‘It’s outrageous that the government is allowing a company that couldn’t run the franchise last time to have another go. It’s beyond belief that the Conservatives, whatever they think about private or public ownership, should give house room to a bid from a firm that has already shown it is not up to the job.’

When National Express tried to renegotiate the terms of its franchise, because it said it had overpaid, Lord Adonis, the then Transport Secretary, said: ‘I’m not prepared to renegotiate rail franchises or bail out companies that are unable to meet their commitments.’

Mick Whelan said: ‘National Express, when it handed back the keys in 2009, left the East Coast franchise in chaos. It has since been successfully run in the public sector.

‘The East Coast Main Line delivers a better deal to the public purse – to each and every taxpayer in Britain – and 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 railway network.

‘It’s shameful that a government which 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.

‘And what, I wonder, will the government do if National Express bid, and win, and then walk away again?’






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