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.
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.
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.