A petition signed by over 23,000 East Coast rail users which demands a halt to the government’s planned ‘re-privatisation’ of the mainline will be handed in to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin on Friday.
The petition was organised by a coalition of campaigning groups and its aim is to ‘keep the publicly owned rail service in public hands’.
The aims of the petition are supported in an Early Day Motion tabled by Edinburgh MP Sheila Gilmour.
As part of the campaign, groups plan to mark the petition in a series of actions along the East Coast line on November5 as they seek to highlight the important contribution East Coast line makes to communities.
This week it was announced that Directly Operated Railways (DOR) which took over the running of the London to Scotland line four years ago after private sector operator National Express handed the franchise back to government, had paid over £209m back to the public purse.
The campaign and petition was organised by a grass roots coalition of campaigning groups who aim to put the ‘re-privatisation of the line’ on the political agenda with the aim of getting the government to look again at its controversial plans for the line.
Ian Lavery, MP for Wansbeck, said: “Anything other than keeping the East Coast Mainline in public hands when, since 2009, it has paid back £602 million in premium payments is outrageous. East Coast Mainline should not only remain in public hands but should be used as a model for moving over other lines to public ownership as their franchises come to an end.”
Cat Hobbs, spokesperson for campaign group ‘We Own It’ added: “The government needs to call a halt to this reckless gamble with a successful and publicly run business which has handed over £600m back to HM Treasury. We hope that the secretary of state will listen to more than 23,000 East Coast users who are sending him a direct message ‘hands off our railway’.”