Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rail Union Calls for Action over GNER

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rail Union Calls for Action over GNER

Article excerpt

Byline: By Zoe Hughes

There were demands yesterday for GNER to be removed as the flagship operator on the East Coast Main Line.

The call came amid mounting fears they were set to increase prices and cut jobs.

Just a few days ago bosses at GNER's parent company, Sea Containers, paved the way for yet more price rises and the possibility of some job losses.

This resulted in the leading rail union, the RMT, saying it was time for the Government to take action to prevent the franchise being "butchered".

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said the deepening financial woes at Sea Containers meant concerns were growing about the way GNER could be affected.

Mr Crow said: "Sea Containers were only ever interested in this franchise to wring as much money out of it as possible, but their current financial crisis makes matters even worse and it is absolute madness to allow a supposedly profitable franchise to be butchered."

He wants the Department for Transport to take over GNER in the way the now-defunct Strategic Rail Authority took over the running of the South Eastern franchise from operator Connex. Mr Crow's comments came as GNER backed down in its fight over plans to open up the East Coast Main Line to rivals ( meaning direct train services between Sunderland and London will be up and running by the end of the year.

Despite a fierce High Court battle last month, GNER yesterday said it would not contest plans to allow Grand Central to run three daily services to the capital from December 10 ( even though GNER insists it could lose pounds 13m a year as a result. It was as the deadline for an appeal against the High Court decision passed that a GNER spokesman said other legal options were being considered.

He said: "We are not appealing against the High Court, but we are still looking at the possibility of other options. …

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