Public companies can run rail services too

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On Sunday the East Coast rail franchise was taken over by Virgin and Stagecoach, replacing the previous operator DOR.

Since it took over the failing service in 2009, DOR has helped to deliver the highest levels of customer satisfaction since records began.

It was running an extra 7,000 trains per year, more punctual than ever, has returned more than £1bn to the UK, and that money has been re-invested in the rail network.

Why, then, has the Government awarded the contract to someone else?

The answer is that DOR is a publicly-operated company, brought in to manage East Coast after the failure of the previous private operator.

DOR shows how the public sector can deliver efficient, high quality services that match or beat the private sector.

It proves wrong the Tory argument that privatisation is always better for customers.

This Tory-led Government couldn’t accept that, so wanted to re-privatise East Coast as quickly as possible – even if that meant a worse deal for passengers.

The Government claims to be in favour of competition, but when that competition comes from the public sector it is afraid of it because it threatens its friends in big business.

It is wrong that a successful rail operator is being barred from running our railways, and that’s why under Labour the public sector would be able to compete for rail contracts alongside private bidders, so that East Coast and other routes can see improvements like those seen under DOR.

I believe that when it comes to our railways passengers deserve the best service possible, no matter who is delivering it.

Labour’s approach will make sure that happens.