Thank you so much for all your support for our campaign to make the East Coast line public! We handed in a petition to the Department for Transport with nearly 30,000 of your signatures last Tuesday (20th February). If you haven't signed it yet, every signature still counts! You can sign here.
You also sent nearly 4,000 emails to MPs asking them to write to Chris Grayling and urge him to bring the East Coast line into public ownership, and it worked! Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP, wrote to Grayling almost immediately, followed by Anneliese Dodd (Labour) and Liz Truss (Conservative). Even Tory MPs are responding positively to these emails, which just shows how popular public ownership of the railways is. Again, if you haven't done this yet, please do! Its really important to keep up the pressure to keep Grayling on his toes. Take action here.
(More MPs may have written or spoken to Grayling that we're not aware of. Plenty of Labour and SNP MPs asked questions in the House of Commons relating to the East Coast franchise on Thursday 1st March.)
We were joined by Andy McDonald and Daniel Zeichner, Labour MPs, Alan Brown, SNP MP, and Jonathan Bartley, Green Party co-leader, as well as activists from RMT, Momentum, TSSA, TUC and Unite! The petition was also supported and promoted by the wonderful UK Uncut, Bring Back British Rail, Compass, and trade unions ITF and ASLEF.
Cross party support
This means we now have support from all the major parties (apart from the Conservatives, of course). That’s fantastic! True cross party support to match the huge public support for public ownership.
Even better, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Transport Select Committee in Parliament are both holding their own inquiries into Grayling’s decision over the East Coast, and into why the franchise failed.
We heard from the boss of Stagecoach on Monday that the failure of the franchise was down to ‘political uncertainty’ - he blamed everything from Brexit to the Manchester Arena bombing. The one thing he couldn’t blame, though, was Network Rail.
Since the campaign began, we’ve heard that the franchise didn’t make enough money because the publicly owned Network Rail failed to deliver the improvements it had promised to the infrastructure of the line.
But Mark Carne, the head of Network Rail, confirmed to the PAC on Monday
that Network Rail had in fact delivered all of its promised infrastructure improvements, on schedule! Stagecoach and Virgin have run out of excuses.
We acted fast last week because we had reason to believe that Grayling would make a decision in a matter of weeks - and it may still be very soon! However, we’ve since heard from the head of the Department for Transport, Bernadette Kelly, that the timeline is more likely to be a couple of months, not weeks. So we’re regrouping this week and taking some time to figure out what the best next step will be.
We’d like to get the SNP involved in putting pressure on Grayling, and we’d like to buy a share in Stagecoach and turn up to their shareholder meetings! We might take a trip to Grayling’s constituency in Epsom and Ewell - so if you’re from near there, we might need your help!
We’re exploring all the options, and will be in touch very soon with a game plan.
THANK YOU for your help so far - we couldn’t do any of this without you.