Following the announcement that the Government have awarded the contract to run the East Coast Mainline to Stagecoach and Virgin, Michael forced the Secretary of State to answer an Urgent Question on the issue in the House. You can read further coverage of Michael's reaction to this announcement on the BBC, ITV, Huggington Post and Daily Mail.
You can watch the Urgent Question in full by clicking here.
Michael has also written to the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Transport in order to ask him to postpone the process and to get a formal, Written Direction from the Secretary of State for Transport if he insists on proceeding. You can read the letter in full below:
Dear Permanent Secretary,
I am writing regarding the announcement this morning of the preferred bidder for the contract to run the East Coast Mainline.
As you will be aware, the decision by the Secretary of State for Transport to open up a formal competition to privatise passenger rail services on the East Coast Mainline without allowing the existing public sector operator to bid is an extremely controversial, live political issue.
The Labour Party’s position is that this franchise process should not have happened in this way. It is not in the national interest and has been rushed through to enable the privatisation of the service before the General Election.
It is our view that there should be wholesale review of the franchise process and that a different approach is needed - one that puts the public interest first, reverses the presumption against the public sector and properly services passengers. We are also committed to legislating to allow a British not-for-profit public sector operator to take on and challenge train operators on a level playing field going forward.
It is clear that the privatisation of rail services on the East Coast Mainline will have significant implications on the performance of the line for many years to come. With only five months before the General Election, such a major decision, which does not have political consensus, should be postponed. We understand that as the bid process is now in a ‘stand still’ period between ‘award’ and ‘contract signing’, so this should be possible.
Given the obvious political nature of how this process has been handled, I believe it would now be appropriate for you, as Permanent Secretary, to seek a formal, Written Direction from the Secretary of State for Transport if he still insists on proceeding with this franchise process.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Michael Dugher MP
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport