The troubled East Coast rail mainline should be brought back into public ownership permanently, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Wednesday 16 May) 

Unite, which represents rail engineering and technical staff, said it was the third time in a decade that the government had been forced to step in on the flagship London to Edinburgh line. 

Unite national lead officer for the rail industry Hugh Roberts said: “After a hat-trick of failures on the East Coast mainline in the last 10 years with ministers having to intervene, now is the time for this service to be brought back under state ownership permanently. 

“It is clear that the privatisation of the railways – the misguided brainchild of John Major’s Tory government in the 1990s – has hit the buffers. It has reached the end of the line. 

“Bringing back the East Coast mainline under public control permanently should be the first stage in returning the whole network to public ownership. 

“Rail privatisation has been an expensive and ideologically-driven failure that has been a constant drain on the taxpayer’s pocket. 

“It would be best for the economy, the Treasury and the hard-pressed rail traveller paying through the nose for their tickets, if ministers blew the whistle on rail privatisation.”

Unite was commenting as the government pulled  the plug on Virgin Trains East Coast - a joint venture between Stagecoach and Virgin which  had been  awarded the franchise for eight years in 2014. 


Notes to editors: 

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065 


Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web:  

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.