20,000 signatures reached
To: Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport
No more rail privatisation - keep East Coast public
I am writing to ask you to keep the East Coast railway line in public hands. Passengers and taxpayers have had a better deal since the East Coast franchise went into public ownership in 2009.
Passenger satisfaction levels are the highest on record and punctuality and reliability have improved. East Coast has also returned £640 million to the treasury, more than Virgin's West Coast line has paid in the past 15 years. That figure is estimated to rise to £800 million by the end of the financial year.
Please do not re-privatise this valuable national asset by offering the franchise to a private company.
Why is this important?
East Coast is currently the only rail franchise in public ownership; it is also the most successful. The East Coast railway line from London to Scotland is run by the publicly owned Directly Operated Railways (DOR). It went into public hands in 2009 when National Express became the second private company forced to drop the franchise after financial difficulties.
Despite the success of the publicly owned East Coast line, the Government plans to hand the franchise back to a profit-making company by 2015. If this happens, it will be much harder to improve the railways in the future by running them publicly.
East Coast is better for passengers:
Public ownership of East Coast has improved journeys for passengers. The line achieved a 92% overall satisfaction rating in the Autumn 2012 Passenger Focus National Passenger Survey – the highest score on this franchise at any time since the survey was first launched in Autumn 1999. This score was three percentage points higher than the 89% average for all long distance train operators. East Coast was rated higher than the long distance operator average for 16 out of 19 measures. Passengers rated East Coast 13 points higher than the long distance average for how the operator deals with delays. The train operator won a national award, the Silver Whistle prize, for its provision of customer information at times of disruption.
East Coast is better for taxpayers:
The publicly owned East Coast group is paying more money back to the state than any private operator ever has. It has paid more than £600 million in premiums and profits into government coffers in the three years to April 2012. This is more than Virgin's West Coast line has paid in the past 15 years. A study by the Office of Rail Regulation, the official industry watchdog, noted that the East Coast line requires significantly less government funding than the other 15 franchises given to the private sector by the Department for Transport. Whilst Virgin West Coast last year received 3.6p per passenger mile, £133 million in total, East Coast was given a net subsidy of 0.5p per passenger mile.
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