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25 June 2009

National Express must not be able to walk away from East Coast franchise

John Barrett, Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, today called on the Government to rule out any public bail-out for National Express amid reports that the company was preparing to give up the East Coast Mainland franchise between Edinburgh and London.

In 2008 National Express profits jumped 10 per cent to £194million. However, increased debts and disappointing passenger numbers have left the company struggling. Under the terms of the franchise agreement, passenger numbers would have to increase by 10% each year in order for the ailing company to turn a profit.

Mr Barrett has hit out for National Express for overplaying the profitability of the line when bidding for the contact and criticised Government Ministers for accepting the offer.

Mr Barrett, who plans to raise the issue at Westminster said:

“The East Coast Mainline used to be the pride of our railway network. The way in which successive Governments have allowed it to be run is a national disgrace.

“Ministers must shoulder much of the blame for the current situation when they accepted a bid for a contract that many economists will tell you looked wildly optimistic.

“The taxpayer must not now be landed with a huge bill to bail out the company because of irresponsible risks taken by senior national rail management and a Government who couldn’t see beyond the pound signs.

“National Express must not be allowed to pocket the profits during the good years and just walk away when times get tough.”

National Express

National Express

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This website was established while I was a Member of Parliament. The site content is being kept online as a source of information, but all forms / email have been disabled.