ASLEF urges rail rethink

09 February 2015

ASLEF has urged David Cameron to reconsider his controversial decision to reprivatise the East Coast main line after the competition watchdog slammed the award to a company co-owned by Stagecoach.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, said:‘This is extremely embarrassing for the Conservative-led coalition and underlines what we have said, that they rushed the franchise process because of their ideologically-driven determination to get the East Coast back into private hands, whatever the cost to this country and the taxpayer.’

Inter City Railways, a joint venture of Stagecoach and Virgin Trains, is due to take over the East Coast franchise on 1March. But the Competition and Markets Authority says competition will be reduced on the sections of the East Coast on which Stagecoach already operates.[Sections between Peterborough and Grantham and between Peterborough and Lincoln overlap with East Midlands Trains services operated by Stagecoach].

Mick said: ‘The East Coast has returned £1 billion to the Treasury in the last five years. That’s £1 billion which can be spent on the railway, or on our schools and hospitals, rather than disappearing in dividends to shareholders,often overseas.

‘We know – and rail experts agree – that the franchise system is not just flawed, but broken. And now the CMA says that, even on their own terms,this award doesn’t work.

‘It’s time to put passengers before profits and do what is best for Britain. And that means keeping the East Coast in public hands.’

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