Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (March 26th 2013) said the Department for Transport announcement that they intend to put up the East Coast Main Line – the line linking the North East and Teesside to London and Edinburgh – was an ‘unwanted madness’.
“This incoherent announcement has left me speechless. No-one – not a single constituent – has complained to me that they are worried that the line is still in public ownership, and that it should again be privatised.
“Rail users are happy with the service, which has been back in public ownership for some years, and with surpluses from the operation going back to benefit the railway as a whole.
“People are concerned, but about things like the Bedroom Tax and continuing high unemployment, these are the issues the government should be acting on, not a needless privatisation.
“The timing of the announcement is madness too. At the moment the rest of the UK’s franchise programme has been delayed, with temporary extensions to most franchises, due to the shambles the government created with the West Coast re-tendering. This is likely to end up in the courts, something which I suspect will mean the government having to alter the way it puts out tenders for franchises.
“If the East Coast tendering is put out now, it may well have to be revised as a result of any judgement, and this again will simply be more cash down the drain.
“The present East Coast line is both successful and well-managed and it should stay that way. It should not, and must not, become a toy for the ideological obsessions of Coalition Transport Ministers.”