Labour should be proud of the success of East Coast as public enterprise in action

East Coast is doing a great job and it should be allowed to get on with it.

East coast line

By Lord Adonis, former transport secretary and Labour peer

East Coast is doing a great job and it should be allowed to get on with it.

It has an impressive performance record, it has a loyal customer following, and it is making big payments back to the government from its profits to keep fares down for the travelling public, without needing to pay dividends to private shareholders.

The government’s decision to rig the franchising timetable to get this unnecessary privatisation underway is requiring them to agree costly extensions to other contracts, wasting tax-payers’ money.

As Transport Secretary in 2009, I set up East Coast on a temporary basis because that was the only option possible under the law which privatised the rail industry.

However, because of the incompetence of the coalition government – which has been unable to let any rail franchises since 2010 – the temporary arrangement under which East Coast was established in 2009 has now endured for four years.

In the last four years East Coast has established itself as one of the best train operating companies in the country, both operationally and commercially. This has fundamentally changed the situation, and it is right and proper that East Coast should be allowed to continue as a public sector comparator to the existing private franchises.

Labour should be proud of the success of East Coast as public enterprise in action. To abolish East Coast, in a fit of ideological pique, is a huge public policy error. It is especially bizarre that the Lib Dems are supporting the Tories on this.

The fact that only Labour is out there defending the right of East Coast to exist, and to provide a public sector comparator within a largely privatised rail system, sums up why One Nation Labour is steadily colonising the political centre ground.

One Response to “Labour should be proud of the success of East Coast as public enterprise in action”

  1. ActionforRail

    East Coast is outperforming previous private providers on that line and comparable operators on West Coast and Great Western. It costs the taxpayer less in subsidy than those other lines and it returns millions to the government. It is an example of how a more efficient service can be provided through publicly owned rail. Far from being run as a comparator, Labour should use this case as a rationale for rolling out public ownership across the network, bringing each franchise in house as it expires at zero additional cost to the public. Lord Adonis is moving in the right direction but why should the rest of us the network be hived off to corporate subsidy junkies like First and Virgin when ECML shows what can be achieved?

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