Wednesday, July 1, 2009

National Express East Coast to be nationalised

News of the pending demise of the National Express East Coast fills me with glee. The London-Edinburgh route will instead be nationalised, before being offered once again on auction to private firms next year (a stupid thing to do, but when will they learn?). Still giving the franchise to a proper rail firm like FirstGroup (who has great deal of experience running rail franchises the Trans-Pennine Express) would be better than nothing.

No doubt the Tories will attempt to capitalise on the failure of NXEC, but you have to remember this is the legacy of the Thatcher privatisaion era. The public transport in this country has been neglected ever since the Margarat Thatcher times when her government split management of trains and tracks and sold them to profiteering privateers, and even before that when the old government split the railway companies in geographical areas. National Express even created a special purpose vehicle (actually a stupid government requirement) NXEC to run the franchise, that would only limit their parent company's losses to £72 million should they default on the franchise!

Easiest way to fix the railway is to offer cheaper fares without the need to book 3 months in advance, modernised the whole network to be compatible with Japanese Shinkansen trains (bullet trains) and get the French and/or Japanese to run National Rail. Right now it costs £108 for a return off-peak fare to Edinburgh from London! What's the point of rail travel when you can just fly for cheaper and quicker?

Oh, and take back the East Anglia and C2C franchises from NatEx. It seems silly to only take back the loss-making franchise while leaving the profit making lines with them.

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