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First Group must be halted on East Coast bid

10 March 2015

Ministers were urged today to reject a bid by First Group to run extra high speed services on the East Coast line between England and Scotland from 2018.

The TSSA union said the firm was "anti-union" and guilty of running a "second class service" on its biggest existing franchise, First Great Western.

"They are talking of providing a better service than Virgin on the East Coast, cheaper fares and better catering," said union leader Manuel Cortes.

"At the same time, passengers at FGW are going to lose their buffet cars on the new Hitachi trains from 2017 and we have been told that we will be de-recognised for managerial grades next month.

"So at FGW, we will see a return to Downton Abbey style catering, first class silver service for the toffs and micro waved sarnies for the so called plebs in standard-served by trolley- while on the East Coast the very same people try to cream off Sir Richard Branson's business customers.

"It's a joke. Tim O'Toole (First Group chief exec) should not be indulging in gimmicks like this but asking himself why First has lost its last five franchise bids."

The union leader is writing to Patrick McLaughlin asking the Secretary of State to reject First Group's bid for an open access deal on the East Coast from 2018.


Editor's Note: A total of 37 MPs have so far signed an Early Day Motion in the Commons protesting about the axing of buffet cars in standard class and de-recognition of TSSA. It was proposed by Swansea MP, Geraint Davies.

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