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East Coast decision ‘defies all logic’, say unions

The industry has responded to the Government’s publication of its franchising programme, with unions and the Labour party criticising the decision to put the currently state-run East Coast services back out to tender by private companies. 

Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, said ‘reprivatising’ East Coast was a “bizarre and dogmatic decision”. She added: “It’s clear that the Government has learnt nothing from the franchising fiasco that could eventually see more than £100m of taxpayers’ money go down the drain as a result of ministerial incompetence.” 

TUC general secretary and chair of the Action for Rail campaign Frances O’Grady said:

“This decision defies all logic. Since returning to public ownership the East Coast Main Line has flourished with passenger numbers and customer satisfaction increasing and all profits re-invested back into improving the service. 

“This is privatisation for privatisation’s sake, as ministers steadfastly ignore what is best for the rail industry and the people who work on it and use it.” 

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said the Government had given the green light to “a whole new wave of profiteering” and said reprivatising the East Coast franchise was a “further act of grotesque rail vandalism”. 

Richard Hebditch, campaigns director, Campaign for Better Transport said the industry wanted to “rush back” to business as usual, without considering franchises that put passengers at the heart of decisions. 

But Michael Roberts, chief executive of ATOC, said: “Getting franchising back on track, as today’s announcement does, will ensure that train companies, Network Rail and our suppliers can continue to provide the best possible deal for passengers and taxpayers. The Government has rightly recognised the crucial role the private sector has played, and will continue to play, in delivering a booming railway. 

“We welcome the appointment of Richard Brown as chair of the new Franchise Advisory Panel. Train operators look forward to working with the Panel and the Department for Transport to ensure the franchising process works for passengers and taxpayers alike.” 

And Go-Ahead Group chief executive David Brown said the programme would help restore confidence in franchising and welcomed extended contract terms for London Midland and Southeastern – which Go-Ahead currently operates. 

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John   05/04/2013 at 16:31

The competiton of the ECML Franchise should be on hold until the WCML Fiasco has been sorted out. That way we can control these wretched Bus Firms and stop them becoming Monopolies. Once the WCML Franchise Competition has been sorted and Properly conducted to the Public Good and NOT just to suit the Bus Firms's Asset bases, Then run a Competition for the ECML Franchise. It should then be seen t obe fair and above board and not a covert "let's get rid of Virgin" operation!!

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