Tuesday, 12 November 2013

As Parliament discusses future of East Coast, Government admits option to reintroduce third class travel

Convenor: John McDonnell MP

As Parliament prepares for a special debate today (12th November) on the future of the publicly-owned East Coast Mainline rail route, Ministers have confirmed in Parliamentary answers that they are leaving the door open for bidders to reintroduce a third class of travel on Britain’s railways for the first time in over 50 years.

The admission flies in the face of denials when RMT first leaked the secret plan two weeks ago.
In a written answer to Alex Cunningham, Transport Minister Stephen Hammond says clearly that new private bidders for the franchise will be:
“….free to consider such initiatives [as third class of travel]..”

In a further Parliamentary answer to Ian Lavery MP, Stephen Hammond has also been forced to admit the success of the East Coast in public hands in key statistics that were redacted from the prospectus issued to potential bidders after RMT leaked an earlier version.

The figures, contained in the tables below, show that ECML/DOR is by far and away the most efficient train operator both in terms of average number of passenger carried per train per km, a staggering 35% higher than Virgin’s score on the comparable West Coast Route.

Today’s debate in the Commons comes at a crucial time. If the Government are allowed to get away with their plans it will be the third time that the private sector have had the chance to exploit the East Coast service for their own gain following the previous collapse of Sea Containers/GNER and the total chaos when National Express held the contract which led to them throwing the keys back in 2009 leaving renationalisation as the only option. Since then, as all the figures show, Directly Operated Railways has gone from strength to strength, delivering a billion pounds back to the treasury and carrying more passengers with increasing satisfaction and reliability.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“Despite all the phoney protests from the Government when RMT first leaked their plans to open up the road to third class travel on the East Coast route, they are now openly admitting that that’s exactly what the new private bidders will be able to do.

“As well as turning the clock back more than 50 years this Government are also happy to write off a billion pounds of returns to the taxpayer from publicly-owned DOR and smash apart the most successful rail franchise in Britain.

“The nonsense is that foreign state operators are queuing up to take over the East Coast route so that they can use the profits and subsidies to hold down fares in their own countries. It’s a shameful fact that this Government will allow state ownership of our railways providing it is not by the British state in the interests of British people and our workforce.

“The reprivatisation of the East Coast can and must be stopped and it should be used as a platform from which to launch the full renationalisation of Britain’s railways.”

For more information on the work of the RMT Parliamentary Group please contact michael.calderbank@parliament.uk / 0207 801 2731

Kind regards,

Simeon Andrews
0207 801 2731