Let’s keep East Coast on track – Labour

Maria Eagle MPMiddlesbrough’s Labour MP Andy McDonald today forced the government to come to Parliament to debate their unnecessary and costly privatisation plans for InterCity East Coast line.  

Labour MPs from across the North East region spoke in the Westminster Hall debate, together with other Labour MPs from Yorkshire and Scotland. 

Opening the debate, Andy McDonald MP said,

 “Since the government put the franchise under publically-owned Directly Operated Railways, financial stability has been restored. Total Premium plus Operating profit amounted to £647.6m in the four years to 31 March 2013 , more in both cash and real terms than any other previous franchisee on the line. All of that money is available for reinvestment in our railway network. 

Mr McDonald continued:

 “That East Coast have achieved better customer satisfaction than any of their long distance rivals while running the oldest rolling stock of any franchise bar Merseyrail Electrics, is a testament to the workers and management. 

“That the trains themselves are still running at all after 30 years or more of continuous use is a testament to the brilliance of the engineers of British Rail Engineering Limited who designed them, and the factory workers of the North of England who built them.”

Mr McDonald concluded his speech saying:

 “The question that I must ask the government, and members who oppose keeping the line in the hands of those who have managed it so well, is whether there is any evidence that would get them to drop their prejudice that private is always better than public?”

Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, speaking before the debate, said:

“Ministers must keep East Coast on track by abandoning this unnecessary and costly privatisation. Since being run on a not for private profit basis, East Coast services have improved and more than £800million has been returned to tax-payers in contrast to the two previous failed private operators. Unlike every other rail service in the country, profits are reinvested in improving the service instead of leaving the industry in payments to shareholders. If Ministers get away with selling off the East Coast then the fares paid by passengers will once again be benefitting a few at the top instead of improving the service.

“The Government should stop misleading people that this privatisation is necessary to deliver investment. The truth is that the planned upgrade of the East Coast Main Line and the new generation of high speed InterCity trains that are on their way are being paid for by the taxpayer and will happen regardless of who is running the service.

“Labour MPs have forced this parliamentary debate to speak up for East Coast passengers and raise our concerns about the likely consequences of this misguided privatisation. We will be stepping up our campaign over the coming weeks and urge all passengers to back our efforts to keep the East Coast on track.”