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Government Must Take TransPennine Into Public Ownership - Cortes

7 February 2019

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has called on the Government to bring the TransPennine rail franchise into public ownership after revelations that parent company FirstGroup is in financial trouble.

The Daily Telegraph (4th Feb) reported that FirstGroup - which runs hundreds of buses across three depots in Bury, Oldham and Bolton - plans to sell its Greater Manchester bus divisions to stem mounting losses. The newspaper said the operations across the region were to be sold in ‘a cut-price deal’.

Manuel Cortes said: “If FirstGroup is struggling in this manner then the government has no option but to act to prevent the loss of services and ensure the viability of these vital train routes.

“There is no time to lose and dithering will not cut the mustard. Even Chris Grayling must surely see that flogging off bus services to plug holes in a business model is playing fast and loose with public services.

“These bus and rail services connect people, jobs and communities and they are precious. If yet another private firm is unable to do anything other than put profits first then the Secretary of State can’t stand idly by and watch as TransPennine then collapses.

“What we have is yet more evidence that the private model for public travel has not only failed but is becoming a standing joke with the travelling public. A sick joke at that.

“We need our railways and our buses back in public hands now.”

According to The Telegraph *FirstGroup has in the past been valued at £100m in annual turnover. Industry sources indicated FirstGroup may sell up in the north west for as little £20m. Each of the sites will be sold to separate bus companies.

The paper also highlighted analysis suggesting FirstGroup, Manchester’s fourth-biggest regional bus network by revenue, has veered sharply into the red and is now its worst performing UK network.

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