Privatisation of East Coast Main Line unpopular says poll

A poll carried out has shown that almost 60% of the public are against plans to sell off the East Coast train service

A train on the East Coast Main Line
A train on the East Coast Main Line

Nearly 60% of the public oppose plans to sell off the East Coast train service, a union has claimed.

Polling carried out by campaigners shows two thirds are sceptical of plans to hand the nationalised line back to the private sector.

The Northern TUC and rail campaigners are at rail stations across the region today to oppose Government plans to privatise the East Coast Main Line.

They point to Parliamentary questions revealing the line will bring in �800m to the treasury this year as evidence that a sale is not needed.

Campaigners point to a survey of more than 1,000 adults – carried out by Survation for the campaign group We Own it – which they say shows that 58% of the public oppose Government plans to hand the route back to private train operators. A further 21% say they are unsure about the proposals and one in five voters said they are in favour of re-privatising the East Coast Main Line.

The poll also shows that far more Conservative voters are against (48%) taking the East Coast out of public ownership than are in favour of it (28%).

Neil Foster, policy officer at the Northern TUC, said: “Since it was renationalised, East Coast has made a large contribution to the taxpayer and the �800m to the country this financial year alone is much needed.

“We want some of that money to go into lowering rail fares and improving services, but the Conservative-led Government’s decision to try to privatise the franchise means the money would go to corporate shareholders instead.

“Whenever we talk to members of the travelling public, they recognise it makes sense to keep East Coast publicly-owned, and today’s poll shows that’s a view shared by the general public. It’s time Coalition MPs started listening.”

We Own It director Catt Hobbs said: “The East Coast Main Line, like other public services, should not be run for profit. The public know this and they don’t want to see the line privatised. The campaign to keep the East Coast public is just one example of how public ownership is making a comeback. The days of privatisation-as-usual need to come to an end.”

Action for Rail, bringing together the TUC and rail unions ASLEF, RMT, TSSA and Unite will be at stations including Newcastle, Durham and Darlington today handing out protest cards.

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