The news today about the East Coast Mainline was perhaps not unexpected. Although many of us will have hoped that another method of solving National Express’s problems could have been found – sale to other transport companies who had shown interest, for example – rather than nationalization.
The beautiful Lord Adonis says that he will offer the franchise for tender again. Hopefully he will. I would deplore any move to keep it in the public sector. We fought for years to turn back the clock on Socialism’s previous nationalizations. Don’t let it happen again.
But whatever happens to the East Coast Mainline, there was a nasty little threat in what the Lovely Peer had to say.
He said it was possible he would remove the company’s two other franchises. This is seen as punishment for making a mess of the East Coast Mainline, but lawyers (and the almighty Robert Peston) believe he may not be able to do that as the East Coast franchise is controlled by a separate specially set up company.
One of those other franchises is c2c which runs the Essex line out of Fenchurch Street to Southend-on-Sea, via Upminster and West Horndon, or around the Loop taking in Dagenham, Rainham and Purfleet, or Ockendon and Chafford Hundred, to Grays, Tilbury and Pitsea and then on to the seaside.
It’s a small operation – only fifty or so miles from London to Southend – but it’s a great little railway. It always comes near the top of the league tables. Its trains are very rarely cancelled. They are punctual and clean. There are always workers clearing litter from platforms and trains. The staff are friendly, polite and helpful. Inspectors patrol the trains regularly checking on tickets in addition to the automated barriers at the stations.
So, here’s one passenger, not a commuter but a fairly regular traveller, who says to His Lordship and his government colleagues, “Keep your hands off c2c”!