18 January 2018
Whether it's Carillion, Virgin or Stagecoach, it's the same old story. Private companies grab profit while they can and leave the public to pick up the pieces.
New polling shows 84% of us think Transport Secretary Chris Grayling made the wrong decision in allowing Virgin and Stagecoach off the hook on the East Coast line. That includes 77% of Conservatives.
Virgin Trains East Coast have opted out of their franchise contract three years early, avoiding payments they had promised to make. This amounts to a bailout of up to £2 billion at the public’s expense.
That's why we were outside Kings Cross station with buckets and banners this morning for a mock fundraiser for Richard Branson - with actions also happening in Bristol, Edinburgh, Manchester, Redhill and Milton Keynes! Perhaps unsurprisingly, we didn't find any passengers who wanted to donate their hard earned cash to Branson...
It was brilliant organising this action with the support of UK Uncut, Bring Back British Rail, Compass, ITF, Aslef, RMT, TSSA, Unite and the TUC. We were super chuffed that Jeremy Corbyn tweeted about #BransonBailout which got it trending on twitter! Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, joined us at the station. Privatisation has had its day and it's great to be all working together to end it for good.
Branson sued our NHS as well as backing out of his promises on the East Coast line. Stagecoach shares jumped 13% on hearing about the bailout and learning that they would be able to bid again to run the same contract. The government must stop allowing these chaotic, blood sucking private companies to run our vital public services.
The solution is clear: accountable, efficient public ownership. When the East Coast line was in public ownership from 2009 to 2014, it was the most efficient franchise in the UK.
And let's keep #BransonBailout going on twitter...