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Cortes Dismisses 'Shallow' Virgin Comments On UK Railways

9 July 2019

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes has dismissed as "shallow" comments from Virgin Rail Group that the British franchise market is 'becoming uninvestable'.

The Railnews website reports that Virgin is set to look at opportunities in Spain after seeing its bid with Stagecoach and SNCF for the West Coast Partnership disqualified by the Department for Transport earlier this year.

Virgin will cease to run franchised services on the West Coast Main Line by next March at the latest.

Railnews quoted Patrick McCall, a senior Virgin figure, as saying “unfortunately the UK is fast-becoming uninvestable from a rail franchise perspective, because of the UK government’s decision to load unacceptable risk on to bidders.”

Responding, Manuel Cortes said: “If ever proof were needed that private companies only interest in our railways is making profit then this is it. The idea that a public service is a market place runs contrary to the very idea of public transport.

“These comments highlight the shallow thinking prevalent at Virgin and elsewhere. Instead of having a rail network run for the public and in public hands we have privateers who’ve fleeced passengers for years moaning about investments. You couldn’t make it up.

“Virgin are the past and won’t be missed – these comments should be a signal to the Williams Review that the future must be a nationalised railway.”

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