Rail unions in legal challenge to privatisation

 
Marion Dakers
TRANSPORT unions yesterday launched a legal challenge to the government’s plan to hand the East Coast Main Line service to a private sector operator.

The unions have also pledged to fight the decision to extend the First Capital Connect franchises, saying they “cannot, in good conscience, allow the mistakes of the past to happen again”.

The unions said the East Coast franchise contest is being rushed, with a timetable of 15 months compared to the 24 months recommended by Richard Brown after the collapse of the West Coast competition in 2012.

The TSSA, RMT and Aslef unions are yet to set out the grounds of their application for judicial review. The Department for Transport said it will vigorously defend the claim.

FirstGroup, one of the three shortlisted bidders for the East Coast

Coast and the operator of First Capital Connect, said “we have no reason to believe that the claim has any foundation, and are discussing the position with our legal advisors”.

The government hopes to hand the East Coast line over in February 2015, ahead of the general election.