Stop rail sale, urges Scott

East Coast train crossing the Royal Border Bridge in Berwick

East Coast train crossing the Royal Border Bridge in Berwick

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Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Berwick has welcomed outline proposals put forward by party colleagues to effectively ‘renationalise’ the railway system.

Scott Dickinson is concerned about the government’s plans to hand back the East Coast Mainline franchise to the private sector despite two franchise failures.

Fears have been raised that it could lead to a reduction in services from Berwick and other stations in Northumberland.

Mr Dickinson, also a member of Northumberland County Council, said: “The coalition decision to flog East Coast mainline franchise to the private sector for a third time smacks of putting ideology before the interests of the tax payer.”

The line has returned profits to the tax payer since the last franchise failure in 2008 so Coun Dickinson is calling on Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith to make sure local concerns are aired.

“Sir Alan needs to put pressure on his ministers in the coalition to show some ‘spine’ and stop another sell off, which will undoubtedly lead to a worse deal for north Northumberland,” said Mr Dickinson.

“I’m happy to back the proposal put forward by 50 of my Labour colleagues to bring the railways back under public ownership because I think the tax payer and the passenger is getting ripped off. There is no way that the East Coast sell-off should go ahead before the General Election.”

The franchise is due to start in February. FirstGroup has been shortlisted to run it, along with a joint bid from Eurostar and Keolis, and another from Virgin and Stagecoach.

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