Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is urged to renationalise the troubled East Coast Main Line by Yorkshire Labour MPs Mary Creagh and Rachel Reeves

Managing director David Horne said it is 'unlikely' Virgin Trains East Coast will lose the right to run services on the line despite pulling out of the existing contract.
Managing director David Horne said it is 'unlikely' Virgin Trains East Coast will lose the right to run services on the line despite pulling out of the existing contract.
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Senior Labour MPs have called for the collapsing East Coast Main Line rail franchise run by Virgin and Stagecoach to be renationalised.

Former Shadow Transport Secretary Mary Creagh said a directly operated company should now run trains on the line.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is assessing how best the line, which serves Yorkshire, should be run until a new franchise is introduced in 2020.

During a Commons statement on the West Coast line, Wakefield MP Ms Creagh said: “I came running over here today in eager anticipation of hearing him say he was going to set up a directly operated rail company, along the models of the one we had in 2009 which delivered £1bn back to the taxpayer over those six short years.

“Can he tell the House what you are doing to get that East Coast Main Line franchise back on track, delivering for passengers, staff and taxpayers.”

Ms Creagh added: “And can he make sure there is no announcement snuck out in the middle of recess?”

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves said public ownership would be “a very sensible option” and called for Virgin-Stagecoach to face penalties, while Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff quipped it would be “verging on the ridiculous” if the companies got the contract again in 2020.

The Transport Secretary promised to update MPs when he takes a decision but stressed: “It’s not just about me be ready to take a decision it’s also about knowing that when I take that decision, that whichever option I take is ready to happen.”

Mr Grayling also pledged to Hull North MP Diana Johnson to meet representatives from the city about cross-Pennine rail links, after former transport secretary Lord Adonis accused him of doing “nothing” to bring about a “Crossrail for the North”.

Responding, a Department for Transport spokesman highlighted £3bn of upgrades to the existing Transpennine route, and work to help Transport for the North (TfN) produce a business case for “northern powerhouse rail” by 2019.

TfN will take up its statutory powers at an inaugural board meeting on April 5 in Liverpool.

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