Unions call for East Coast main line to remain in public hands indefinitely

Unions have called for the East Coast main line to remain in public hands indefinitely.

ASLEF and the RMT were speaking after the government announced the line would continue to be run by the state for up to five more years

ASLEF general secretary Mick Whelan said: “We welcome this announcement, which is a sensible decision, and which offers clarity and security in the short-term to both passengers and staff. We now know where we are.

“But we think the government should announce that this line will stay in public ownership permanently. It’s what passengers want, it’s what rail staff want, and we know from survey after survey that it’s what voters, of all political parties and shades of ideological opinion, want, too.

“Because the railway, which is a key part of this country’s infrastructure, should be run as a public service, not as an opportunity for a few people to make a private profit. Especially as these profits – money which leaks from our railway system – is made off the back of an enormous public subsidy, anyway!

“And, as the government has indicated it is moving from the failed franchise model to a new concession model, why do we need these privateers?”

RMT senior assistant general secretary Mick Lynch said: “The government has finally woken up, smelt the coffee and realised that rail privatisation doesn’t work after all. It’s better late than never but this decades long farcical experiment with our railways needs to end now.

“Like LNER the government must stop throwing good money after bad and immediately end the negotiations with fat cat privatised rail operators and bring all of our railways under public ownership.”

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