The MP arriving (grumpily) at platform 1…

It seems that one of our local politicians has not quite grasped the approach his own government takes to railway privatisation. He has put down an early day motion in the house of commons

That this House notes with growing concern that despite First Great Western train services making substantial profits and introducing significant fare increases, passengers on these services have had to endure poor levels of punctuality, cuts in services and severe overcrowding; is further concerned at reports that 12 extra trains introduced by the company to alleviate the collapse of rail services in Bristol and the West of England last winter will be withdrawn by the end of this year and that this again will result in train cancellations and amount to an astonishing 20 per cent. reduction in the number of trains since First Group took over the Greater Western franchise in April 2006; believes that the interests of passengers should come before the interests of shareholders; and therefore supports the call by passenger groups and rail unions for First Great Western services to be run in the public sector.

The problems with this diagnosis are that most of those ‘substantial profits’ will have to be paid to the Treasury in hefty franchise premium payments, and the cuts in services were as directed by the Department for Transport. It’s not the interests of shareholders that are being put before those of the passengers, it is the interests of the Exchequer. Perhaps said local politician just does not like First Group. If they are making such big profits, why does he feel the need to back throwing even more public money at them? The rail company’s reaction is rightly dismissive.

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