This Sunday our publicly owned East Coast Rail will be contracted/franchised out by the government to the Stagecoach (90%) and Virgin (10%) companies.
The service was run at a profit over the last five years, contributing £1bn to the government and taxpayers, and this was to pay for schools and hospitals etc.
For rail passengers from the north east and elsewhere, it is likely that there will be new larger fare increases along with cuts in costs by reducing the staffing on trains and at stations.
This will mean a poorer service while profits go into the pockets of Stagecoach and Virgin’s shareholders.
This cost-cutting is very concerning for everyone, but particularly for the disabled and vulnerable, who rely on assistance with wheelchairs and pushchairs etc.
This will also affect passengers’ personal security, with figures already showing an increase in violence, drinking, anti-social behaviour and attacks likely across the entire rail network in England.
Tyne & Wear Public Transport Users Group (T&WPTUG) is seeking to involve more of the public in its campaigns to improve public transport in our areas, and we cover walking, cycling, rail, Metro, buses and the Shields ferry.
Our current campaigns include: bus regulation, ie, the Quality Contract Scheme which local councils have voted to introduce, a publicly owned rail network, the Concessionary Pass and the dire effect the use of diesel is having upon local people’s health.
Our next meeting is to be held at Whitley Bay Library this Saturday (February 28) from 10.30am to noon.
We will also be discussing the recent spate of Metro delays, the progress of bus regulation across Tyne and Wear, air pollution and how safe is our concessionary bus pass?
All welcome and we look forward to seeing you
Vicki Gilbert and Fiona Swindell