Mole heralds rail route public ownership

CHRIS Mole today made his most important speech to the Labour Party conference since becoming Ipswich MP when he announced to delegates that the east coast rail franchise will remain in public hands for “at least” two years, the Government indicated today.

Graham Dines

CHRIS Mole today made his most important speech to the Labour Party conference since becoming Ipswich MP when he announced to delegates that the east coast rail franchise will remain in public hands for “at least” two years, the Government indicated today.

In his new capacity as junior transport minister, Mr Mole said the move would provide stability for passengers and staff.

“It also provides us with a breathing space so we can really learn the lessons of the failure of National Express and their predecessor GNER.”


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The east coast franchise, which links the north east and Scotland with London via Peterborough, is separate from National Express's East Anglia operation, which covers the main line from Stowmarket, Ipswich and Manningtree to London as well as cross-country routes from Ipswich to Felixstowe, Lowestoft, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Peterborough and Harwich.

Mr Mole told Labour delegates that the coming months would be used for a “comprehensive debate” on how to deliver stability for staff, a fair deal for taxpayers and the best possible rail service on the east coast.

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His statement came as delegates debated an emergency motion calling for the east coast franchise to be retained as a public company and run on a not-for-profit basis rather than re-let to the private sector.

Mr Mole condemned National Express's attempt earlier this year to renegotiate the east coast franchise as “completely unacceptable. Under this Government there will be no bailouts for private train companies unable to fulfil their commitments.”

A public company had been set up by the government to bring the franchise back into public hands, where it will remain for at least the next two years. The route is due to be renationalised later this year when National Express gives up the franchise.

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