Nationalisation of east coast mainline is the only viable option | Nils Pratley
Chris Grayling’s decision to bring route under public ownership avoids rewarding failure
The decision was “very finely balanced”, said transport secretary Chris Grayling, meaning both options on the east coast mainline were terrible from this point of view. He chose the right one.
Keeping Stagecoach, under the Virgin Trains banner, on the job would have looked appalling. The operator got its numbers spectacularly wrong when it agreed to pay £3.3bn for an eight-year deal to run the London-to-Edinburgh railway route. It couldn’t even limp into the third year of the deal. To be awarded a “not for profit” follow-on arrangement until 2020 – but one that, critically, could have included a performance-related payment at the end – would have been an unacceptable reward for failing to honour financial commitments.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling’s decision was surprising given his vehement opposition to public control of rail. But he said the move was partly to expedite the planned east coast partnership, which would see a contract re-let to a private firm in 2020. However, several train companies face similar struggles to Stagecoach and Virgin after overbidding for franchises and events may yet force his hand again.
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Source: Guardian Transport