Wednesday, 11 November 2009

East Coast Mainline - Join the Public Debate

East Coast Main Line comes back under public control from this Friday. Fortunately staff will keep their jobs. It is expected the route will be run by the government until mid-2011, with any profit being returned to the public purse. The key question is where do we go from here?

Anyone who has used the line recently will know the service is cramped, late and very expensive. But is the Government best at running a train service? The problem is surely the price the government made the operator pay = £1.4 billion - which clearly gets passed on to the long-suffering passenger, as the train company tries to recoup its outlay.

The unions are campaigning hard for this to be the opportunity to take the route permanently into public ownership.
Bob Crow is quoted as saying - "This is the second privatisation failure on the East Coast route following on from the GNER collapse."

Lawrence Marshall, of the Capital Rail Action Group, said keeping the East Coast Main Line in public hands would help provide a useful comparison with the rest of the network.
He said: "My view is that the franchise should be left with the government and not put back out to tender. If there is money to be made on this franchise, and presumably there is given the amount of interest when National Express took over, then why not let the public purse have the money."
ASLEF is organising a meeting concerning the East Coast Mainline entitled "Public or Private Future?" ASLEF describe how they, the rail unions, want to build "a progressive Labour policy on the issue before the next election". For progressive I suspect it will read state-owned but let us see.
The local meeting is planned in Newcastle on Thursday 17th December.