Over £2.4m has been spent by the government on external advisors for legal and financial expertise in order to re-privatise the East Coast Main Line.
In a time of austerity, this is a huge waste of public money – spent on an unnecessary and unpopular privatisation.
Since being under public ownership, the East Coast Main Line has returned over £1bn to the Treasury, has high customer satisfaction ratings, won 35 industry awards, and receives the lowest subsidy out of the train operating companies.
According to a poll by Survation for We Own it in 2013, 58% of those surveyed agreed that East Coast should remain in public ownership as it was better run than when under previous private train operating companies.
The government awarded the East Coast franchise to Inter City Railways (ICRL), a joint venture of private train operators Stagecoach and Virgin, in December 2014. However, the Competition and Markets Authority recently raised concerns about the sell off of East Coast and reported that there is:
“a realistic prospect that the award of the East Coast franchise to ICRL would lead to higher fares or reduced service quality for rail passengers travelling on these overlapping routes.”
Action for Rail is calling for a halt to the East Coast sell off pending an in-depth competition inquiry.