Live updates

  1. Calendar

Rail union: East Coast privatisation a 'national disgrace'

Rail union, the RMT, have criticised the government's decision to privatise the East Coast mainline and sell it to a consortium involving Virgin and Stagecoach.

Mick Cash described it as a "national disgrace" and said the current arrangement was earning the British people £1 billion:

It is a national disgrace and an act of utter betrayal that the government has confirmed that it is bulldozing ahead with the re-privatisation of the East Coast Main Line despite all the figures showing that the current public sector operator is handing over a billion pounds back to the British people while delivering huge improvements in service and customer satisfaction.

It is simply ludicrous to even contemplate re-privatisation when not only have there been two previous private sector failures on the East Coast route but when the public-sector rescue operation has been such a stunning success. This is pure industrial vandalism by a rotten government hell bent on wrecking successful public services in the name of private greed.

While domestic public ownership puts money back into the coffers that can be reinvested in our railways the private operators suck out colossal sums in subsidies and profits - that's what privatisation means.

The decision to hand this profitable and successful public rail operation back to the vultures from Virgin/Stagecoach is based purely on hard-right political ideology and RMT is committed to continuing the fight to block this betrayal right up to polling day and beyond.

– Mick Cash, General Secretary RMT


  1. Central

Virgin trains consortium chosen to run East Coast main line franchise

A consortium involving Sir Richard Branson's train company Virgin Trains has been chosen to run the East Coast main line franchise from next year.

Virgin Trains has been chosen to run the East Coast main line franchise Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the consortium involving Virgin and transport company Stagecoach, who already run the West Coast line, will start the East Coast franchise in March 2015.

There has been speculation that a consortium of Eurotunnel and French company Keolis which is 70% owned by French state railway SNCF, had been chosen as the new East Coast operator.

But Eurotunnel/Keolis have now missed out, as have the other shortlisted bidder, FirstGroup (correct) which has recently also lost its First Capital Connect and ScotRail franchises.

Child star of Christmas ad admits 'it even made me cry'

If you have shed a tear over one of the Christmas commercials currently filling the ad breaks then you are probably not alone.

Sentimental commercials for big department stores have become something of a tradition at this time of year giving us that warm, cosy feeling that shops hope will send us in their direction.

Perhaps the most talked about advert this year is the one for John Lewis. It stars an eight-year-old boy from Stevenage who has become quite a regular fixture on our screens.

Click below to watch a report by Russell Hookey:

Three to be sentenced over man's murder

Murder victim: Thomas Ward Credit: ITV News Anglia

Three people are due to be sentenced today for their part in the murder of Thomas Ward from Stevenage in April last year.

The 21-year-old was shot at a caravan site by John Boy Ward who was jailed for a minimum of 32 years for the crime.

John Boy's wife, brother and sister were found guilty at the same trial of assisting the offender.


Stevenage man 'unlawfully killed' in Libya

A coroner has said a Stevenage man shot dead on a beach in Libya was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Mark De Salis Credit: Family photo

46-year-old Mark De Salis had worked for an energy company in the Libyan capital Tripoli for six years.

He was found dead on a beach in the west of the country in January alongside the body of a female friend.

The coroner ruled the pair were unlawfully killed.

'Bump Mark' could change the way we look at food

A 22-year-old woman from Stevenage has come up with an invention which could completely change how our food is labelled.

Solveiga Pakstaite's 'Bump Mark' would let people know if something has gone off, just by feeling the outside packaging.

Now it has won her an award from the prestigious James Dyson Foundation.

Click below to watch a report from Olivia Patterson:

Police investigate 'stabbing' at house party

Detectives are investigating reports of a man being stabbed at a house party in Hitchin over the weekend.

Police say there was an altercation in the garden of the property in North Place at about 12:30am on Saturday. It is alleged an 18-year-old man was then stabbed.

He was taken to Lister Hospital where he is currently in a stable condition.

This young man appears to have been very lucky to survive the wounds he sustained.

We are aware that the party was very well attended and that it is possible there are a number of witnesses that have yet to speak with police.

We need to establish exactly what happened during this incident and so I would urge anyone who has any information about what happened to contact us or report what they know completely anonymously via Crimestoppers.

– Detective Inspector Lynda Coates

An 18-year-old man from Stevenage has been arrested on suspicion of assault and has been bailed until October 25.

Anyone with any information can contact the North Herts Local Crime Unit via Hertfordshire Constabulary’s non-emergency number 101, quoting crime reference G1/14/2349.

Alternatively call Crimestoppers, the independent charity, anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Load more updates