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Labour: 'Odd choice' to prioritise East Coast rail deal

Maria Eagle, Shadow Transport Secretary Credit: Daybreak

Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle has told Daybreak that the Government's plan to prioritise a new ownership deal for the East Coast mainline is "a bit of an odd choice".

"Competition has failed twice in spectacular fashion" on the East Coast franchise, she said, "now that [they] are putting that right, returning money to the treasury, returning money to the taxpayer, improving services... why is it a priority?"

Rail franchising process plans to be announced

Today the government will announce plans to re-open the rail franchising process, six months after the collapse of the West Coast Mainline deal.

It is thought that the priority will be to agree a new ownership deal for the East Coast mainline.

Read: Has Britain's rail system gone off the rails?

A new ownership deal for the East Coast mainline could be a priority Credit: Martin Keene/PA Wire

The rail route will be put back into private ownership after a long period under state control.

The decision is expected to reignite the rivalry between Virgin Trains and FirstGroup, who competed for the west coast franchise last year.

Read: Virgin Trains continue to run West Coast Mainline

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East Coast rail route set for privatisation

East Coast Main Line train pulls out of Peterborough Train Station
East Coast Main Line train pulls out of Peterborough Train Station Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The East Coast rail route will be put back into private ownership after a long period under state control, the government will confirm this week.

Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary, will unveil plains to seek tenders for the London to Edinburgh service over three years after it was nationalised.

The decision to put one of Britain's most used rail routes back into private sector hands is expected to reignite the rivalry between Virgin Trains and FirstGroup, who competed for the West Coast franchise last year.

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