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.

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.

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