Investing in railways to the North

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I commented last week on the subject of the wrong type of investment in railways in the North so let me offer another example of where the government is making the wrong type of investment decision on railways in the North now.

East Coast Main Line Company Limited, the state owned company that has run the line from Kings Cross to Edinburgh and beyond via York and Newcastle since 2009 is to be privatised despite paying Β£1 billion to the Treasury over the last five years and that despite the fact that the previous private sector operate failed to meet its franchise obligations.

If the Treasury was serious about investing in the North it would invest in this state sector success on a key artery to the North, but it is instead planning to privatise it. That did not work last time. There is no reason why it should work again. By pursuing this plan to sell with all haste before May 2015 - to the French nationalised rail system if necessary - the government is showing it has no interest in the North at all. It just has interest in dogma.

If it was really interested in the North it would keep this route in state hands and work out how to make the North more accessible. It isn't. And that's a serious error of judgement.