East Coast rail line open for bids

The East Coast main line is expected to be back in private hands in less than two years under rail franchise plans announced by the Government today.

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Labour: Franchising won't help passengers

Maria Eagle MP, Shadow Transport Secretary, has responded to the Government’s plans for rail franchising:

“The full scale of the chaos caused by the Government’s rail franchising fiasco has now been revealed with almost every contract delayed by up to a staggering fifty months. Ministers have still not come clean about the full extent of the losses facing taxpayers as a result of this scandal, despite many industry experts putting the likely cost at well over £100 million and a series of legal disputes yet to be settled.

– Maria Eagle MP, Shadow Transport Secretary

It is completely the wrong decision to focus obsessively on an unnecessary privatisation of InterCity services on the East Coast, instead of prioritising getting the existing stalled franchise programme back on track. Ministers must be very careful not to mislead the public as they make their case for this misguided sell-off. It is simply wrong to suggest that planned public investment in the East Coast Main Line by Network Rail and the taxpayer funded order for a new generation of InterCity trains would not be happening without this privatisation.

– Maria Eagle MP, Shadow Transport Secretary

The truth is that the current not for private profit operator has returned £640 million to taxpayers and reinvested a further £40 million, profit that in future will be shared with shareholders rather than benefiting passengers under the Government’s plans.

– Maria Eagle MP, Shadow Transport Secretary

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Unions: Politicians have learned nothing about railways

Rail unions reacted with dismay to the East Coast news, pointing out that the private sector had twice given up the franchise, with GNER pulling out some years ago.

They also highlighted the fact that the taxpayer is likely to have to foot a bill as high as £50 million over the botched West Coast franchise.

Despite wasting hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money on the franchising circus, and instead of learning the lessons of the privatisation disasters on the East and West Coast main lines and across the rest of the network, the Government has this morning given the green light to a whole new wave of profiteering that will have the train companies laughing all the way to the bank.

– RMT general secretary Bob Crow

The proposed reprivatisation of the East Coast, after the public sector rescued the service following two private failures, proves conclusively that the political class have learnt absolutely nothing when it comes to our railways.

This is a politically-inspired wrecking move designed to flog off this publicly-owned intercity route before the next election regardless of the consequences.

– RMT general secretary Bob Crow

He continued.

With this news coming just a day before the 50th anniversary of the Beeching Report that ripped Britain's railways to pieces, the ConDem administration is setting up yet another sell-off of state assets in a further act of grotesque rail vandalism.

The public need to know that, while fares are going up and safety is being compromised, the Government's priority remains the profits of the greedy train operating companies. No wonder 70% of the people now support RMT's call for full renationalisation.

– RMT general secretary Bob Crow

East Coast rail line open for bids

The East Coast main line is expected to be back in private hands in less than two years under rail franchise plans announced by the Government.

The line has been run under the control of the Department for Transport since November 2009 after transport company National Express pulled out.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced the start of a bidding competition for the East Coast franchise with an expected start of service by the new operator in February 2015.

He also published a detailed timetable for all rail franchise arrangements over the next eight years, following a major review after the West Coast bidding process had to be abandoned last year.