Press release: Sheila Gilmore MP slams UK Government over East Coast privatisation plans

Edinburgh East MP Sheila Gilmore today slammed the UK Government as they published their prospectus for the privatisation of intercity services on the East Coast Main Line.

Sheila Gilmore said:

Passengers recognise the improvements to services that East Coast have made under public ownership over the last four years. They also appreciate that at present, all profits are retained for public benefit, rather than lost to shareholders.

As a result my Labour colleagues and I have been calling for the service to remain publicly operated in the long term.

The decision to privatise East Coast just before the next General Election in May 2015 is a cynical attempt by Tory Ministers to wreck this plan.

This shows that the David Cameron and his Ministers put ideology before the needs of passengers and taxpayers.

To sign my petition against these plans, go to www.sheilagilmore.co.uk/EastCoastMainLine.

Notes to Editors:

  • The UK Government’s prospectus can be found here.
  • Please find photos of Sheila Gilmore MP campaigning on this issue earlier this year: with Mark Lazarowicz MP and Sarah Boyack MSP here; with Mark Lazarowicz MP here; and with Mark Lazaworicz MP, Ian Murray MP and campaigners here.
  • After privatisation intercity services on the East Coast Main Line were run by GNER from 1996 to 2007, and then by National Express until they broke their contract in 2009.
  • Since then services have been run by East Coast, a subsidiary of Directly Operated Railways (DOR), a train operating company wholly owned by the Department for Transport.
  • As with operators of other profitable franchises, East Coast is expected to make premium payments to the Treasury, and it has returned over £640 million over the last four years.
  • In addition all profits – totalling over £40 million over four years – are reinvested in the service rather than paid out in dividends to shareholders.
  • In 2011 East Coast introduced a new timetable involving: 19 additional services each day, some to new destinations including Lincoln and Harrogate, equating to an extra 3 million more seats per year; faster journeys, with a daily 4 hour service between Edinburgh and London; a revamped First Class service;
  • In late 2012 East Coast achieved the best punctuality on the line since records began in 1999 with 93.3% of trains arriving within 10 minutes of their scheduled arrival time.
  • For more information please contact Matt Brennan, Parliamentary Assistant to Sheila Gilmore MP, on 07742 986 513 or matthew.brennan@parliament.uk.
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