Rail union RMT is calling for the East Coast Main Line to remain nationalised, after it claims £235 million in profit was paid back to the taxpayer in the last financial year.
The union said in 2013/14 East Coast, under Direct Operated Railways (DOR), paid the British taxpayer £235 million, an increase of 12 per cent from the previous financial year.
This means that DOR will have paid back £1 billion to the British taxpayer since it took over in 2009, when the National Express franchise collapsed, said RMT.
The union, which has long campaigned against privatising the line, said the figures “make a mockery” of the government’s plans to push through the re-privatisation of East Coast before the next election.
The Government wants to privatise the route, which runs from London to Edinburgh, early next year. This is despite fierce opposition from political figures and union leaders.
In January, the government announced a shortlist of three bidders to run the line – a joint bid by Eurostar and French company Keolis, and another from Virgin and Stagecoach.
RMT Acting General Secretary Mick Cash said: “It is a national disgrace that the government are continuing with their plans to bulldoze through the re-privatisation of the East Coast Main Line, despite the latest figures showing that it is handing massive sums back to the British people, while delivering huge improvements in service and customer satisfaction.”
Cash added: “It is simply ludicrous to even contemplate re-privatisation when not only have there been two previous private sector failures on the East Coast route but when the public-sector rescue operation has been such a stunning success.”
A Department for Transport spokesman said a private-sector partner will provide “certainty of ownership” and can build on the “significant investment” planned for the route.
“We are currently considering the bids for the franchise, and will announce our decision later in the year,” he said.
“In making our decision, we will look at factors including value for money, long-term benefits for communities across the route and improved services for passengers and local businesses and not just the return to the taxpayer.”