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Statement from East Coast on privatisation

East Coast are inviting private companies to bid for the rail franchise Credit: East Coast

East Coast have released a statement about the planned return of the franchise to privatisation.

A full statement from an East Coast spokesperson can be read below:

"We always believed that a return of this franchise to the private sector was inevitable.

"Since we took over in 2009, we have repaid more than £640m to the taxpayer, achieved record-breaking customer satisfaction and the best performance on the route since records began in 1999.

"We are working on a plan for the next five years of the franchise which will consider some major decisions and projections for growth. This will be available to assist the future owner, whoever that is."

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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
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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.

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East Coast bids open after National Express pulled out

The East Coast rail line runs from London to Scotland's major cities, including Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow.

Empty train at King's Cross Station Credit: Press Association

Over three years ago the line had to be nationalised because operator National Express revealed it couldn't afford to pay the franchise. The company was commited to a £1.4 billion contract.

No formal bidders have yet been confirmed, but it could reignite competition between Virgin Trains and FirstGroup who went head-to-head to run the West Coast line.

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Passengers to help decide who runs rail services

This programme is a major step in delivering tangible improvements to services, providing long-term certainty to the market and supporting our huge programme of rail investment.

Above all, in future franchise competitions we are placing passengers in the driving seat by ensuring that their views and satisfaction levels are taken into account when deciding which companies run our railway services.

Franchising has been a force for good in the story of Britain's railways, transforming an industry that was in decline into one that today carries record numbers of passengers.

– Patrick McLoughlin, Transport Secretary

North East rail route set for privatisation

An East Coast mainline train passing through Church Fenton in North Yorkshire Credit: PA

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 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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"Bizarre decision" says MP over privatisation plans for East Coast main line

Plans to put the east cost rail route back into private ownership have been criticised by a Labour MP. The government is expected to confirm the proposals this week.

It is a bizarre and dogmatic decision to prioritise the privatisation of a service that is actually on track. Since running services on a not for private profit basis, the East Coast operator has returned £640 million to the taxpayer and invested more than £40 million in improvements to the service, achieving some of the best results since records began."

– Maria Eagle MP, Labour Shadow Transport Secretary
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