From the TUC

Midnight express – East Coast rail back in public hands

13 Nov 2009, by in Public services

At midnight tonight the troubled East Coast Mainline will be taken back into public hands under a new, publicly owned company, after National Express failed to meet the terms of its £1.4 billion franchise agreement.

The Government says the line will be managed by the new East Coast body for the next two years, but unions are calling for the prestigious route to be kept in public hands and run on a not-for-profit basis. We’re in good company: this summer the Transport Select Committee argued that an East Coast line kept under public ownership would be an ideal way to measure up the franchise system, acting as a comparator to the lines run by private operators.

The announcement about the programme for taking the East Coast line is silent, however, about what will become of the other two services currently run by National Express – the lucrative commuter C2C and East Anglia lines. Unions have been campaigning hard for the company to be stripped of the remaining franchises, but at the moment the picture for workers on the two lines remains uncertain. A provider that defaults on one contract should be stripped of its other franchises, according to “cross-default” rules, but the government is said to still be considering the legal position.

In yet another example of the problems with the franchise system this week, the Government imposed a ‘remedial plan’ to address poor performance by London Midland.

And finally, some food for thought as all of this goes on, is that Conservative Party policy is to reform the system – by pushing for longer franchises of 15-20 years.

5 Responses to Midnight express – East Coast rail back in public hands

  1. Tax Research UK » East Coast rail back in public hands
    Nov 14th 2009, 5:13 pm

    […] Midnight express – East Coast rail back in public hands | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog fr…. […]

  2. East Coast rail back in public hands | called2account
    Nov 14th 2009, 5:20 pm

    […] Midnight express – East Coast rail back in public hands | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog fr…. […]

  3. David
    Nov 15th 2009, 10:32 pm

    Perhaps this will be an opportunity to advance the Peoples Rail concept of the Co-operative Party?

  4. Plans to re-privatise East Coast line published – and more questions over National Express routes | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC
    Nov 25th 2009, 6:35 pm

    […] will be allowed to run its course and then re-let according to the existing timetable.  As I wrote recently, unions have been campaigning  for the operator to be stripped of that franchise […]

  5. Anger as running of Tyne and Wear Metro is privatised | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC
    Dec 4th 2009, 5:14 pm

    […] you can now travel to Newcastle from Edinburgh, York or London by publicly-owned railway, but from April when you arrive at the station, from April 2010 you’ll be getting on a […]