Government to 'renationalise' East Coast rail after string of failures

17 May, 2018, 01:12 | Author: Barbara Daniel
  • Virgin Trains East Coast- a joint venture between Stagecoach and Virgin- was awarded the eight-year franchise to run trains in November 2014

Grayling also said that the government was assessing options for transferring some Govia Thameslink Railway commuter services operating on the ECML to LNER when the TSGN franchise ends in 2021 and enhanced cross-London services have been implemented under the Thameslink Programme.

Trains will be run by the Department for Transport through an operator of last resort.

He said temporary state ownership would provide the smoothest transition to a new public-private operator from 2020 and pledged that staff and passenger services would not be affected.

"I'll be speaking to UK Govt later today & demanding Scot Govt is involved new board SoS is setting up - we can not be ignored".

"Deputy leader of City of York Council Andrew Waller said he would be writing to Mr Grayling immediately:to seek assurances and guarantees of stability for residents, commuters and workers in York".

Stagecoach boss Martin Griffiths said he was "surprised and disappointed" at the government's decision.

'I plan to use a period of Operator of Last Resort control to shape the new partnership.

He added: "However, we respect the Government's decision".

But the contract will be terminated on June 24, Mr Grayling said, and the line will be re-named the London and North Eastern Railway, the LNER.

"Despite today's news, we believe that we can continue to make a positive contribution to the United Kingdom rail market, delivering long-term customer benefits and sustainable returns for taxpayers and investors", he added.

"Having more stability in the underlying contract between Government and the train company will help achieve these things that matter most to passengers", said Anthony Smith, the chief executive of watchdog Transport Focus. "Privatised rail is broken beyond fix yet the Tories are still handing these services back to the private sector because they are wedded to a broken free market ideology".

Mr Grayling told Parliament Stagecoach and VTEC would have lost over £200 million and suffered considerable "reputational price" due to the failed rail service. Under the changes, Stagecoach, which owns 90 per cent of the route, would step down three years early.

"Anything else risks playing out the same expensive farce over and over again".

Mick Whelan, general secretary of Aslef, the train drivers' union, said: "Tory dogma - wedded to the failed model of privatisation - means they will return this line to the private sector, doubtless to fail again, in the not too distant future". "No amount of tinkering can solve the failings of a broken privatised system where the public takes the risk and the companies take the profit - aided and abetted by the transport secretary".

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