MP seeks assurances that rail jobs will stay in York

YORK MP Hugh Bayley has called on the Government to promise that the return of East Coast Main Line services to the private sector will not see dozens of jobs leave the city.

Mr Bayley has asked for reassurances that the operation’s headquarters, which employs around 200 people, will remain in York whichever company secures the franchise.

Government-backed East Coast has been running intercity services on the route since 2009 but a competition is now underway which will see them returned to the private sector in February 2015.

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The route has had a troubled history, with GNER pulling out of the franchise in 2007 and National Express doing the same two years later with both arguing they could not operate services profitably and meet the franchise payments owed to the Government.

Mr Bayley, the MP for York Central, said: “The East Coast staff and managers rescued the service when the National Express franchise collapsed, and they have rebuilt it into a going concern. With both private franchises failing I think East Coast should have been left to run the service, especially as they are paying back far more money to the Department for Transport than the private sector companies did before them.

“It is stupidly anti-British for the Government to allow foreign public sector rail companies. Like Deutsche Bahn from Germany and SNCF from France to bid for the franchise, but to prevent a British public sector rail company with a proven track record of running services here from doing so.

“I wanted the Secretary of State to come to York to meet the staff and managers at East Coast’s headquarters. Each time the line is refranchised – this is the fourth time it has happened – they face the risk of being told their jobs will be moved away from York.

“If the Secretary of State spoke with them he would learn what they have done to turn a failed business back into a successful railway, and he might even change his mind about whether it is right to put their tremendous achievements at risk all over again.”