Action For Rail: Run West Coast mainline as a public service

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The government’s decision to re-tender for the West Coast mainline shows just how broken the rail franchising system is.

Train operators can submit fantasy bids, knowing they can keep raising fares or just walk away or seek bailouts if they can’t sustain large profits. Worse still, failing to pay money they owe the taxpayer for broken commitments doesn’t stop them being allowed to bid for more rail services.

The current debacle on West Coast is costing the taxpayer over £40m. An additional £450 million is being paid to eight different profit making train companies who've failed to meet the targets they
predicted in their own bids.

In partnership with the Action For Rail campaign

This is yet another example of the massive costs of rail privatisation. Over £1 billion a year is lost from the industry through profits and dividends, higher borrowing and wasteful duplication and legal and administrative costs from franchising. These costs are what make our rail fares the most expensive in Europe.

But it could be different.

For two years now (and after two failed franchises) East Coast mainline has been run as a public service by the state. Passengers are increasing, customer satisfaction is increasing and profits are increasing, with money being reinvested in the service rather than lining the pockets of either First Group or Virgin.

We believe the government should learn from this and place West Coast mainline in public ownership too. 

The Department for Transport has announced a review into the details of the West Coast franchise and a further general review into the future of franchising. But the Secretary of State has made clear that public ownership will not even be considered as an option.

The government will be extending Virgin’s current franchise up to a year and then holding not one but two further franchise bidding rounds for West Coast, all in order to keep the service in private hands.

Please help us stand up for UK rail users and ask for an end to the franchise madness on the railways, one of our key public services by calling on your MP now to help put the West Coast mainline back in public ownership.

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