The East Coast rail line, which runs through Doncaster, has today returned to private hands.
The franchise has been re-branded as Virgin Trains East Coast.
Under the management of a joint venture between Stagecoach and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin, an eight-year franchise began with the 7.55am service leaving Newcastle and stopping at Doncaster at 9.11am for London King’s Cross this morning.
The Rail and Maritime Train union (RMT) has held a string of protests against the re-privatisaion of the East Coast mainline, including one at Doncaster train station yesterday.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “Six years ago the East Coast Main Line collapsed into chaos when National Express threw the keys back because they couldn’t extract enough profit. That followed an earlier spectacular private sector failure on the line when Sea Containers went bust. It was left to the public sector to not only rescue this vital North/South rail link from total meltdown but to turn around its performance and to start handing hundreds of millions of pounds back to the taxpayer in contrast to the rip-off private companies.
“This weekend, in an act of gross national betrayal of the British people that will cost us dear, the route is being handed over to Virgin/Stagecoach to be run again solely in the interests of private profit, taking a third gamble after the two previous corporate failures.
“This re-privatisation is based on pure, hard-right, Thatcherite ideology and is an act of industrial vandalism that will smash apart Britain’s most successful rail company for just one reason – it is publicly owned.”