16 May 2018
Responding to the announcement that services on the East Coast Main Line are being brought back under UK Government control, Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said:
"The deeply flawed franchising process is at the root of the problems on the East Coast Main Line. The process encourages train companies to overbid, leaving the Department for Transport without the resources to manage the resultant franchise agreements properly.
"The Government mismanaged the delivery of new trains on the East Coast Main Line and Network Rail failed to meet its deadlines for line improvements: little wonder, then, that passenger numbers undershot expectations."
Stephen Joseph added:
"Key to avoiding such failures in the future is passenger involvement in crucial decision-making. Passengers are now paying a huge proportion of the cost of the railway and deserve a say.
"We need a flexible approach which involves passengers much more and selects the best model for managing the services in question, whether that's a franchise or a concession, long or short term, locally managed, or indeed in public ownership.
"Crucially more weighting must be given to the quality and cost of service for passengers, and less to promises of cash for the Treasury."
On Chris Grayling's proposed new East Coast Partnership, Stephen Joseph said:
"Rail users - freight operators as well as passengers - will need much more detail about Mr Grayling's proposed partnership. Any new arrangement needs to work for local passenger and freight services on the East Coast Line, rather than purely for inter-city trains."
Notes to Editors
Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).