East Coast service levels “worrying” says Labour transport secretary on Lincoln visit

Shadow Transport Secretary Lilian Greenwood has raised concerns over the running of the East Coast Main Line by Virgin Trains and Stagecoach.

On her visit to Lincoln to view the plans for the new Transport Hub, the Labour MP for Nottingham South claimed that there had been “worrying declines in customer satisfaction,” based on the National Rail Passenger Survey released in January 2016.

Virgin Trains East Coast took over the line on March 1, 2015.

Labour would renationalise the franchises, including East Coast, as soon as their current contracts expire.

Greenwood said that this would save the taxpayer money and would allow the state to invest in the services and reduce train fares.

Examining the plans for the Lincoln Transport Hub. Photo: Stefan Pidluznyj for The Lincolnite

Examining the plans for the Lincoln Transport Hub. Photo: Stefan Pidluznyj for The Lincolnite

She said: “In 2009, the public took on responsibility for East Coast and the service turned around with record levels of customer satisfaction, record punctuality, every penny of profit reinvested to improve the service and it delivered a billion pounds in premium payments to the Treasury.

“Despite this, the successful British public sector operator wasn’t even allowed to run for the contract. Now Virgin have got to make good on the promises they made at the time they won the franchise.

There’ve been some worrying declines in customer satisfaction in recent months but obviously there’s new rolling stock coming which I’m sure people in Lincoln will be looking to benefit from.

“But Virgin have a lot to live up to and there are questions over whether there have been improvements in the service that people were expecting.”

Bus campaign

David Rimmington holding the signatures of the supporters of his petition. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

David Rimmington holding the signatures of the supporters of his petition. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

The Shadow Transport Secretary also visited the city to hear from David Rimmington, who led a campaign against cuts to bus services across the county.

The number of bus services delivered in Lincolnshire will reduce, despite county councillors making a u-turn on their proposals to cut funding following a campaign, signed by 5,500 residents.

Greenwood said: “Up and down the country there’s been a loss of supported bus services since 2010. The Campaign for Better Transport has shown that over 2,000 buses have been cut or withdrawn.

“Not everyone has access to a car and some people have been heavily impacted by it, whether it’s young people, older people, people on low incomes and disabled people. These people struggle to get through day-to-day life without these services and I was delighted to hear about how they won the argument here in Lincolnshire.

“There are still concerns as that transitional funding is only available for two years but it absolutely shows the power of campaigning.”