Campaigns. It is important that I continue to know the strength of feeling on an issue and I prefer to respond to every inquiry, but the sheer size of campaign correspondence means that it is hard to justify to the tax payer the cost and time taken for individual written replies, so regrettably I will no longer reply to every item of campaign correspondence.  I will  post a response to the campaign on the "Responses to campaigns" page of my website.

I am sorry to do this, as it is rather impersonal, but can see no other way of maintaining a good service for all my constituents unless I approach campaigns this way.


21 FEB 2018

East Coast Railway

Thank you for taking the time to email me about the East Coast franchise.

I understand your concern on this matter and hope the following information on this topic from the Department of Transport is of interest:

VTEC is a joint venture, 90 per cent owned by Stagecoach. Recent challenges to the franchise have arisen because Stagecoach overbid for the franchise. This means the franchise can only continue in its current form for a very limited period of time. As a result the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, has announced he will need to end the contract and establish a successor arrangement to operate the line.
The day-to-day operation of the line will continue as normal and services and staff on the East Coast will be unaffected. Equally, Stagecoach have not and will not receive a bailout. The nature of the competitive franchise system means that businesses in the private sector risk substantial capital and when things go wrong, the business not the taxpayer foots the bill. Stagecoach will lose around £200million.
Despite the challenges it is important to remember that since 2015, the franchise has returned nearly £1 billion to the public purse and has also achieved some of the highest passenger satisfaction scores in the country. It is also very welcome that new state of the art trains are being prepared to operate along the line. Since 2015, Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) has on average contributed more per rail period to the tax payer than when the line was operated by Directly Operated Railways.
The Secretary of State will now assess the options to ensure passenger's interests are protected and the services continue until the new East Coast Partnership on the line is implemented in 2020. This assessment will be published and validated in a transparent manner.

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