Michael Dugher MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, responding to the Government’s East Coast Mainline franchise announcement, said:
“The taxpayer and the travelling public have been sold down the river. This whole franchise process shouldn’t have happened. East Coast has returned over £800 million to the taxpayer and has established itself as one of the best train operating companies in the country. Rather than rigging the franchise timetable in order to sell it off before the election, David Cameron’s Government should have been putting the public interest first and working to get a better deal for passengers.
“The contract has not been signed yet and it’s not too late for the process to be halted. Given the clear political nature of how this process has been handled, and with the General Election just months away, I have written to the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport to ask him to postpone the process and to get a formal, Written Direction from the Secretary of State for Transport if he insists on proceeding.
"It’s absurd that our own public operator is the only rail company in the world that has been barred from challenging to run its own services, on the ideological grounds that it is British and publicly owned.
“Labour is committed to legislating to allow a not-for-profit public sector operator to take on and challenge train operators on a level playing field, safeguarding taxpayer and passenger interests and putting in place a system that is fit for purpose.”