Rail activists protest over West Coast line’s future
Rail campaigners will stage protests today to press for the renationalisation of the West Coast mainline following the fiasco over who will run the franchise.
Union officials, passengers and activists will stage demonstrations at train stations across the country as the government prepares to announce whether Virgin will continue to run services along the route.
The government decided that Virgin had lost its franchise to First Group, but then announced earlier this month that the process will start again because of flaws in evaluating previous bids.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin is set to make an announcement early next week amid speculation that Virgin will be given an 18-month extension to keep its services running, rather than the route being handed over to state-owned Directly Operated Railways (DOR) from 9 December.
Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union said: “In light of the West Coast fiasco, it would be an absolute disgrace if the most popular option, public ownership, was ignored.
“Opinion polls and online surveys now show that between 70 per cent and 90 per cent of the British people support full renationalisation of the railways.
“It’s not the evaluation or the franchising model that’s wrong, it’s the whole greed-driven, free-for-all of privatisation that has brought Britain’s railways to their knees and turned us into a global laughing stock.”
Frances O’Grady, general secretary designate of the TUC and chairman of the Action for Rail campaign group, said train operators made a £2.7 billion gain from taxpayers last year after receiving £3.8bn of subsidies.
She added: “These figures show the true nature of our privatised railways – a system of corporate welfare where train operators make a play of bidding for contracts knowing that their future revenue is underwritten by the taxpayer.”
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Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 12 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: East