Campaign to keep east coast line public

RMT Berwick Rail Branch Chair Martin McCleary at the protest in York.

RMT Berwick Rail Branch Chair Martin McCleary at the protest in York.

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Rail activists from Berwick have joined the fight against re-privatisation of the east coast mainline.

RMT Berwick Rail Branch members are calling on the government to keep the east coast in public hands and oppose plans to privatise the running of the line.

Protesters outside York station

Protesters outside York station

Protests took place up and down the east coast mainline on Friday, culminating with a mass demo outside York Station to coincide with the start of the Lib Dem spring conference in the city.

Martin McCleary, chair of RMT Berwick Rail Branch, said: “East Coast shows that publicly owned and operated rail can be a success in the UK – it is a model for the rest to follow.

“Despite this, the government wants to sell East Coast off to another private train operator.”

The east coast mainline has been in public ownership since July 2009, after the two previous private train 
operators pulled out of the franchise due to financial difficulties.

The government established Directly Operated Railways (DOR) to oversee the management and development of the east coast rail franchise.

Since being under public ownership, passenger satisfaction rates for the East Coast Main Line are amongst the highest for train 
operating companies, despite receiving the lowest subsidy of any operator, out-performing the previous franchise holders as well as private operators on other lines like Virgin on West Coast.

By the end of this financial year east coast would have returned £800m to the taxpayer, all of which will be re-invested in the service, instead of going into the pockets of company shareholders. Since 2011 it has received 35 industry awards.

Beth Farhat, Northern Trade Union Congress (TUC) regional secretary, said that the government’s plans to sell off the East Coast Main Line were “purely ideological” and ignored the company’s 
improving performance under public ownership.

In 2013, over 25,000 people signed a petition to keep East Coast public, which was 
then handed in to parliament by We Own It, Bring Back British Rail and Action for Rail campaigners.

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