Mark Lazarowicz MP backs Bill to allow public sector train operators
The Motion was passed by 197 votes to 38 and even if the Bill does not reach the statute book the vote shows the strength of feeling amongst Labour MPs about the franchise system and the service that passengers are receiving.
The new franchise for the East Coast Line is due to start in March 2015 but the UK Government has repeatedly refused to allow Directly Operated Railways (DOR), the public sector company currently running the East Coast Main Line, to bid for it.
The North & Leith Mp said: “I strongly welcome this Bill which would permit a public sector company to bid for a franchise as I have been urging the Government to allow the current public sector operator of the East Coast Line to be allowed to do given the successful way it is running it.
“Given the franchise fiasco of the West Coast Line last year and East Coast’s private sector operator reneging on the terms of that contract in 2009 surely it’s time a public sector operator is given a chance at last to bid for a franchise or is the Government afraid of a public sector bid coming out on top.”
The railway network was privatised in 1993 by the then Conservative Government of John Major. The East Coast Line is currently the only franchise run by a UK public sector rail operator and it has consistently been amongst the top train operators for value for money for the taxpayer.
The latest results for Directly Operated Railways showed that in the last financial year before it is reprivatised, to March 2014, it paid £225m to the government after it’s pre-tax profits for the year rose 40%. Over the five years the company has run the East Coast Line since 2009 it has paid more than £1bn in premium payments to the Government.