No need to reprivatise East Coast line, says city MP

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THE East Coast train service, which operates between Edinburgh and London, should remain in public hands rather than being transferred back to the private sector, city Labour MP Mark Lazarowicz has told the House of Commons.

He said rail privatisation had seen billions of pounds go out of the system in big profits.

He pointed out that state-owned operator the East Coast Main Line Company, which took over the line after National Express pulled out, had seen a seven per cent increase in profit to £7.1 million in the 12 months to March 2012 and paid a premium to the Department for Transport of £183.6m in 2011-12.

Mr Lazarowicz, MP for Edinburgh North and Leith, said: “There is an inherent problem with the system of privatisation introduced by the Thatcher government.

“In order to bring about long-term investment and security, a government will want to see long-term tenders.

“But the longer the tender, the less reliable any prediction of future traffic and income can be.

“That runs the risk either of large losses, leading the operator to hand back the franchise to the government, or excessive profits.

“I want to see the East Coast Line kept in public hands. It’s been run competently and profitably to the benefit of the taxpayer – there is no need for it to be returned to the private sector as the government plans.”