ASLEF denounces East Coast sell-off

27 November 2014

The Department for Transport today announced the award of the East Coast franchise to a Stagecoach/Virgin consortium.

The East Coast line has been run successfully in the public sector since 2009 following the collapse of the previous operator and has returned nearly a billion pounds to HM Treasury over the period. It also is the last franchise to be awarded before the general election in May 2015.

ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan said ‘today’s announcement of the sell-off of East Coast is a hugely disappointing and short-sighted decision which puts dogma ahead of all right thinking and common sense. The East Coast has delivered excellent value and service for both passengers at taxpayers in the public sector over the last 5 years. All of this is now lost’

Mick added ‘it really saddens me that ideological blinkers and post-Royal Mail sale amnesia have condemned the government to repeat the mistakes of history. The growth of the rail industry in the last two decades is down to economic and social changes. It is the public sector which takes the risk and provides the investment not the private sector. The new rolling stock on the East Coast the Secretary of State applauds has been paid for by the taxpayer yet Stagecoach/Virgin will claim all the credit for it.’

Mick added ‘how long must this expensive game of musical chairs continue for the government to realise that privatisation has failed and the only way forward is to reintegrate UK rail operations and infrastructure under public control?’

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