‘The news of the first declaration from a bidder for the East Coast Main Line shows that another British asset may be sold overseas’. That was the reaction today (September 30th 2013) from local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, to the announcement that a partnership of French transport conglomerate, Keolis, and Eurostar were preparing to bid for the line that serves as a vital transport link for Teesside and the wider North East.
“The reality is that after the last private owner for the line threw in the towel and handed back the keys to the Government the line has been publicly run and it is both successful and profitable. So why put this part of our national infrastructure, one which pays for overall transport improvements elsewhere, out to tender at all? It is positively perverse.
“I can’t help but think that this is yet another Coalition fire sale. If it was to go through it would mean that Teesside rail passengers will be paying to underpin French dividend holders. Surely this is wrong?
“I also think that this was deliberately timed to be slipped out when George Osborne was trying to grab the headlines at the Conservative Party Conference and is yet another example of the Coalition looking for a good day to bury bad news. I would hope that our two local MPs backing the coalition – James Wharton, who represents Stockton South for the Tories and Ian Swales who sits for the Lib Dems in Redcar – will put local passengers before partisan politics when this matter comes before the House of Commons.”