DCSIMG

East Coast sell-off could hit rail service

Berwick-upon-Tweed train station.

Berwick-upon-Tweed train station.

Rail union RMT has slammed moves which would see Northumberland lose key rail links if the Government proceed with plans to sell off the publicly owned East Coast route.

The union has warned that the new franchise agreement does not have enough guarantees written into it for services from Berwick, Alnmouth and Morpeth after the proposed re-privatisation in March 2015.

RMT has also warned that early morning connections to Newcastle and London could go as the minimum service levels are re-written to suit the drive for profits of the private sector firms interested in the publicly-owned and operated East Coast operation.

RMT Acting General Secretary Mick Cash said: “It is scandalous that the Government are prepared to give the private sector vultures hovering over the East Coast route a green light to rip up the timetable and to leave passengers and communities cut-off and stranded in the name of private greed and private profit.

“The campaign to stop ministers from wrecking the highly-successful, publicly-operated East Coast services in order to suit their own ideology, and to line the pockets of their mates in big-business, will be stepped up.

“After two previous private sector failures we have no intention of allowing a third reckless gamble on the East Coast that would not only destroy the best-performing rail operation anywhere in Britain but also leave whole communities without proper transport links.”

The fears have been echoed by the South East Northumberland Rail User Group which says the minimum service requirement levels could impact on travellers requiring early arrivals in London.

Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith said he will meet the rail minister Stephen Hammond to raise his concerns over the new deal, and try to ensure local services do not lose out.

 

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