ITH RUMOURS rife throughout the industry that the Government are to announce on Monday that Virgin have been awarded an 18 month “pay as you go” contract to carry on running the West Coast Main Line, rail union RMT warned that ministers are preparing to step into another legal and operational quagmire simply on the basis of their ideological opposition to public ownership.
RMT has been told that the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) have been lobbying the Government against a counter plan to take the West Coast into public ownership through Directly Operated Railways (DOR), the nationalised outfit currently running the East Coast. Evidence suggests that Ministers have caved in to the ATOC demands.
The train companies, and the Tory Party, are well aware of the fact that if both the main north to south intercity routes were to end up publicly controlled, and run successfully without ripping off the taxpayer, it would spell the end game for the whole pyramid-selling racket that is rail privatisation.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“Once again the DFT is leaking like a sieve, just as it did when First were awarded the WCML in August, with briefings flying around that a short term fix is on the cards to keep Richard Branson quiet and avoid the logical move to public ownership of the railways which the vast majority of the British people support.
“The Government stand on the brink of compounding the expense, instability and shambles that is rail privatisation on the basis of pure right wing ideology. It would appear that under EU law a management contract with Virgin is against procurement rules, rules that can be conveniently ignored when it suits Government policy in favour of private greed.
“The legal battle may not be over yet but the future of our railways should not be decided by the wishes of First Group or Virgin’s shareholders but by the wishes of the British people who support RMT’s campaign for full renationalisation.”