East Coast rail: choose public ownership, not more Stagecoach

#TeamStagecoach vs #TeamPublicEastCoast

6 February 2018

Can you believe it? Last night, Chris Grayling said that (temporary) public ownership of the East Coast line is ‘very much on the table’!
The current situation is apparently urgent, Stagecoach and Virgin can’t deliver, and the Transport Secretary says we need a solution before the franchise collapses.
Grayling has asked his department to look at two options for the East Coast line until 2020.
Which team are you on?
1) #TeamStagecoach - Stagecoach continues on a not for profit basis
Renegotiate with Stagecoach so they can run the line on a not for profit basis (presumably they wouldn’t deliver on the payments they’ve promised, and the government will also allow them to bid again in 2020 and on other franchises).
You're probably #TeamStagecoach
  • If you’re a shareholder. Stagecoach shares jumped 13% when Grayling said the franchise was ending early. If your main concern is keeping Stagecoach in business on our railways, you'll be happy with this option
  • If you’re ideological about rail privatisation and want to defend it at all costs
  • If you’re Brian Souter the Looter
  • If you’re Richard #BransonBailout
2) #TeamPublicEastCoast - Public ownership
Bring the East Coast line into public ownership, to be run by the Department for Transport (Directly Operated Rail has been privatised so we’d need to make sure it was brought into public hands, and make sure the government doesn’t just contract out the work to private companies).
You're probably #TeamPublicEastCoast
  • If you’re a passenger: last time East Coast was in public hands, customer satisfaction levels were at 94%, the best for any long distance franchise
  • If you’re the public: last time East Coast was in public hands, it was the most efficient franchise in the UK
  • If you want a railway that is more democratically accountable to passengers and the public
  • If you want the chance to start building an integrated, national rail network that is more efficient, less fragmented and saves us over £1 billion a year
Grayling definitely hasn’t given up on rail privatisation and he’s just awarded a contract to Virgin on the West Coast line, despite their recent failures (check out the story with a quote from us in the Mirror). We need to dig deeper into his proposals.
BUT he’s actively considering public ownership. 76% of us want the railways in public hands. Now we’ve got a chance of actually making it happen!
LIKE and SHARE if you're #TeamPublicEastCoast.
#TeamStagecoach vs #TeamPublicEastCoast

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Prof. Brian Whitton replied on

By far the most efficient period for Durham - King's Cross was the period when it was run as a public company. If only we could return to that standard. As I use the service quite often, this matters to me. Every time there is a problem, such as more than half an hour delay in arrival, then I'm increasingly inclined to decide to drive by car.

Peter Perry replied on

Virgin is not fit for service and must be taken back into public hands

Yvette Holden replied on

Sick of trains and buses, fuel, water being privatised it does not work! Privatisation just means inferior services at the highest price! Take back the railways had enough of badly run rundown trains!!!

Roger Jackson replied on

Travel frequently from York- London; loved last govt controlled service- bring it back with profits to the government/public, not fat cats! JFDI!

Stanley Moore replied on

In public hands the profits could be re-invested back into the railways to bring about cheaper fares and more efficient travel. In private hands, e.g. Stagecoach, all profits will be creamed off into shareholders pockets and the railway will suffer. The public simply cannot afford to support private operators!

Peter Blacklock replied on

More evidence that public services should be run publicly

Anne Christie replied on

This company has failed already and WE the Public are bailing them out for NOT doing their job. Would you pay for a job not done? It was in Public ownership before this and turned a profit but they still gave them the franchise. Corruption is rife.

Keith Smith replied on

Private companies have had too much freedom to fleece the public. It's time to go back to the service being run by the public.

Peter H replied on

Please put the East Coast Railroaded back into public ownership. The lottery of private operators has been a disastrous experiment with taxpayer subsidies feeding private companies with no benefit to user or taxpayers.

Maggie Linden replied on

This is not the first time for east coast rail and on every occasion it was better in public ownership. There is no logical reason for government to continue on their path of privatisation - it is madness to keep trying.

Eileen Procter replied on

I have never been able to understand this idea that our public services - which should include rail - should be up for grabs so that some rich outfit can make a profit whilst running the service down, then hand it back!!! Virgin's track record (no pun intended) is far from acceptable with East Coast or the NHS services it is supposedly running.

Mary Murphy replied on

Privatisation of the railways was ill conceived and benefited only the shareholders while being subsidized by the taxpayer. It is time it came to an end and the public get a decent service .

William Coleman replied on

It only needs any privatised concern which used to be publicly owned to realise what a mess they are in and all for the sake of greedy shareholders who will not invest in our own utilities and once well run public services . Take them back into public control now!

Roger D Tew replied on

Virgin have sucked the life's blood from this stretch of railway and now should be shown the door. Bring it back as a Public Railway and make sure that no further monies are paid to the leechers of our society.

Michael Lehane replied on

East Coast Mainline ran at a profit last time it was publicly owned - now private owners expect to run it inefficiently and still get the tax-payer to provide them with dividends. No more of this nonsense.

David Treadwell replied on

I would suggest that a return to public ownership is the obvious resolution to this continuing rediculous

situation,but difficult when we are governed by idelogues, who act not in the nations interests.

Shall we call it a "dereliction of service"

Peter Reienck replied on

Franchising isn't working especially if it involves companies like Stagecoach and Virgin bidding high on the tacit understanding that they won't have to deliver. Effectively they were in cahoots with Government when they were awarded the East Coast franchise because the Government egged them on to do exactly the same thing that didn't work for GNER or National Express. As Einstein said, if we keep on doing the same thing...

Damian Bell replied on

If public money, paid to the Exchequer in taxes, is to be used to keep the East Coast Main Line running, it should not be subsidising a failed private venture. It made a surplus last time it was in public ownership so bring back what worked.

Jim France replied on

Can't nationalise it again because it made a profit last time. Mustn't repeat that public humiliation lest people start asking questions

Dennis Gray replied on

I travelled frequently on the East Coast Line when it was publicly owned.

It was a good service and it was profitable, handing over millions of pounds to the Treasury.

It needs to be taken back into public ownership.

Patricia Maclean replied on

I travelled regularly on this route between London and Edinburgh for many years. In period of public ownership huge improvement in price and service. Therefore I travelled much more frequently. Deterioration in both since return to private ownership. I no longer use them.

Kevin Sparrow replied on

Why are we lining the pockets of these people

They deliberately fail in order to get a payment from this government can’t everyone see what is going on?

Take it back into Public ownership!!

Mr T Short replied on

Virgin Rail and Stagecoach are capitalist companies, if they did not assess the risk properly, that is their fault. Why should the UK citizens bail them out. The sooner the railways are returned to the public sector the better. Why can't the Tories admit that privatisation has been a costly failure.

Edward Paterson replied on

The spokesman for the publically run East Coast Line said on a television interview, that it had made a profit "despite being run publically", and,that it had been "a lot of hard work". Good! That's what we need! Hard work and efficiency!

Kenneth Loakman replied on

Substandard service. Over priced. Time for public ownership.

W P Owen replied on

I cannot understand the government awarding Virgin West Coast another 12 months at the same time Virgin East Coast is defaulting on their contract. It stinks if you ask me!

Daphne Bullock replied on

Please put it back into public ownership. It was really well run, very reliable and on time. Since Virgin took it over it has been a farce, trains regularly cancelled and/ or late. It needs to go back into public ownership as soon as possible.

Charles Regan replied on

Rail privatisation in the UK has been an unmitigated disaster. It has led to the highest fares in Europe, the near death of Britain's trainmaking industry and a form of public ownership in the form of large parts of Britain's railways being run by firms owned by foreign governments who charge high fares to UK passengers so that passengers back home pay lower fares.

Let's renationalise Britain's railways so that once again they are a public service, no longer cash cows for tax avoiding profiteers like Branson and cease to subsidise low train fares for passengers in other countries.

We are not 'customers', we are passengers and we are sick of the mess which privatisation has wrought.

R Richardson replied on

Sick of being told private profit is better than public profit! For whom? NOT for the public, that's for sure. It never made sense to dismember the railways. Look at the mess with the water, Carillon, and now this - all ideological failures. These things worked perfectly well in public ownership. But after YEARS of extracting profit from the public, raising prices etc - the mess and the greed has had its day, and its time to get back to proper services for all of us - for the good of the country.

Rosemary King replied on

We must return this line to public ownership as the paying public deserve an efficient stable service.Private companies have proved that they cannot run the service .

Maria replied on

Why when owned by the public it makes a profit but not when owned by fat cats!!!!? Go public take it all back should never have privatesed any company. These services from water to rail are public therefore should be owned by the public. Lower fares better service.

Neville Lewis replied on

It has to be taken back from these greedy, arrogant , rich and powerful men, who think the British public are nothing more than a cash cow.

Bring it all back into public ownership and see it make a profit!

Patricia Dellar replied on

Fat cats will only be interested in lining their own pockets and not giving a good service to the public. It is about time the Government realised this and bought all our services back into public ownership - be it rail, water and all services. Give the public the profit to plough back into infrastructure and not big companies that can throw the contracts back at the drop of a hat. My housekeeping would not work that way we would be out on the streets!!

Ruby Tuke replied on

Please consider public ownership.

Bill Dudley replied on

Having worked on the Great Northern, seams to me that the 'Main Line' should be in public hands, but very transparent!

Jon Turner replied on

Definitely Option 2 for me: The neoliberal farce of private ownership of public assets should be confined to history where it rightly belongs. Best wishes, Jon Turner

Lynne Hodgson replied on

It certainly looks as though the government staggers from one private company to the next with none managing the east coast line for the people, only for their own monetary benefits. In my opinion the railways should not exist to benefit the wealthy but for the benefit of people needing to use it. Have it brought into public ownership

Patrick Newman replied on

Massive investment under privatisation? Virgin still uses the old BR locomotives and Great Northern are still using old BR commuter trains.

Geoff Scholes replied on

give it back to the public

George Brown replied on

I travelled regularly to Edinburgh and Newcastle. It was a far superior service whne it was in public ownership. The notion that private ownership equals efficient is a myth. Private ownership equal profits and the present Government's protection (cf Carillon) is ,alas, a reality. Mixed economies are fairer and more efficient than predominantly state or private economies.

Audrey Coldron replied on

Public ownership worked. Let it work again!

GARY FOWLES replied on

Virgin/Stagecoach default on their East Coast franchise because they are not making a profit and avoid making contracted future payments. Contract commitments are ignored.

When the same Virgin - Virgin Care - failed to win back an £82m contract for NHS community services in Surrey they sued six NHS Clinical Commissioning groups. To avoid massive legal costs the CCGs agreed to settle and paid Virgin an estimated £2m pay-off. Virgin prioritise profit not service as do all private companies providing privatised public services.

Mike Hoy replied on

No real comment except that you are right

Dan Plummer replied on

Public services should be owned and run publicly and not to benefit private investors.

Andy Burkitt replied on

It should be in the public sector - Chris Grayling has to be the worse Cabinet Minister we have had

EMary Cotterill replied on

When will they be honest and admit private is not always the best and sometimes downright disastrous. The .East Coast Railway when public was profitable and contributing to the Nation’s wealth. For the short time it has been privatised it becomes a nationally unprofitable concern and now in dire straits. Branson’s infiltration in the health service also proved costly and inefficient and we have Carillion, more interested in paying shareholders than suppliers. Do wake up shake off your dogma, now being proven to be disadvantageous. Don’t give away what is worked NG3 well just to be left holding a broken service, please note you are doing it to the NHSand should stop, and seemingly paying compensation of ridiculous amounts to the villai! There is no money tree but Theresa May’s government somehow manages to find one when it comes to paying our money out for their mistakes. Have a good sleep, preferably for about 5 years,wake up refreshed and see the world as it is. It belongs to us all. Don’t give it to “buddies” who only live to take, not give!

Julie Batten replied on

Public ownership for me

Colin Crockett replied on

This Line was in Credit - made a profit - when it was sold off, something that can never happen when "Share Holders" have a vested interest. Bring back Public Ownership to ALL lines.

John Wilkins replied on

Public ownership of East Coast mainline had a good track record, excuse the pun. The Government needs to be wary of giving out contracts to huge corporations after the recent collapse of Carillion and the problems at Capita.

carolewheat replied on

It seems that public ownership of the East Coast line is the most sensible way forward. Why chose a private company making a loss, when you could be making a profit with public ownership.

Hugh Brown replied on

Perhaps we need to remember that Virgin make profits elsewhere, if it weren't railways there would be no question of bailing them out, yet again government forget they, government, don't have any money.. it's my money, I choose not to give it to Richard Branson and the like.It's a bit like Carillion, the directors pension scheme is secure as are their bonuses but I am expected to prop up the scheme, who will prop up mine when I don't have enough income, I had to provide the whole of my pension no one else contributed a penny. Government has forgotten where the money comes from...me and people like me.

Anonymous replied on

Totally agree Hugh, it's our money and they should not be using it to subsidise private company profits, directors pensions and bonuses, and in many cases subsidising low pay too! We need some big changes in this country.

Keith Baker replied on

The previous success of East Coast Line under public ownership proved it to be efficient, on time, profitable to the Treasury and public purse, and gained the highest passenger satisfaction ratings and levels of use than under any private company. This privatisation madness must stop starting with the railways, then the power companies, both have over the last 20 - 30 years seen very poor service, rising prices and huge profits going to share holders and more importantly much of those profits going back to foreign state run railways that own our railways! How can the Tory ideology square up the insane anomaly of being ok to allow a foreign state owned railway, own and run ours but the Tories do not like a British based state ownership? How can we ever justify public money shoring up private companies which gives them no incentive to make profits or become more efficient. A bad deal all round. The only privatised industry that has made some big improvements is the Water Industry who are heavily scrutinised through Ofwat, a far more rigorous regulator than those supposed to be looking after the railways and power supplies, who are ineffective. Privatisation is not a golden panacea, it has it's issues and limitations like everything else. We need a mixed State and private economy, where all services are state run. That formula works well in countries that do ensure a healthy mixed ownership economy, such as in Germany, France and the Scandinavian countries to name but a few.

June Rose replied on

Services are run more satisfactorily when in public ownership. Profits can be given back to the rail user instead of greedy shareholders who just want more money for themselves. Quality of journey is better too - cleaner trains, a less stressed staff. Last time the East Coast line was put back into public service, it made a profit, but the Government couldn't see this fact. Time they could. Almost every other rail service in Europe is state run, with cheaper fares. Time this Government saw the facts for what they are.

Peter Hanson replied on

The Conservatives are blinded by dogma, they are supposed to run the country for the good of all its citizens. Public ownership for the railways is the only way forward. British Railways was decried as inefficient, ( when ever any of these ideologues criticize BR they come up with the comment about BR sandwiches) At least in my book BR ran a better service than any of these so called private companies.

Privatisation has cost the taxpayer billions.

Ruth Roberts replied on

Let's have East Coast publicly run once again, making any profits to plough back into the railway system instead of going to shareholders.

Jan Shortt replied on

As a very frequent traveller between Newcastle and London, the monopoly that Virgin/Stagecoach have does not make for reasonable fares or indeed anywhere near the prompt service passengers require. I find myself getting up earlier than before just to make sure I get an earlier train to be in London for meetings. Failed on the last 3 occasions. The best era was East Coast - on time, reasonable prices, on-board services etc. And they paid their taxes and still made a profit to put back into the company. This lot put profit before people and the money in their off-shore bank accounts tax free. Public ownership please.

Isabel White replied on

Paying shareholders out of profits is dead money and means less available to reinvest in the railway. Privatisation is a race to the bottom -Just look at the (lack of) catering on long distance trains. The franchise holders will tell you there is no demand for food on trains -if that is the case why are the food retailers at stations cleaning up?

G. Mackenzie replied on


peter rantoul replied on

The Tories obsession and ideology with privatisation is clouding their common sense, Look at successful and pragmatic countries like Germany and France and how they run their rail network, cheap fares and excellent rolling stock, look at the UK's rail network sky high prices ,inferior rolling stock and an inadequate service.Come on, use a little common sense.

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