Well, that’s a lie, but it’s a traditional thing to say…
I’ve previously mumbled about the long-running farce involving private operators running the East Coast Main Line service that runs from London through York and Newcastle to Edinburgh and points beyond.
Back in 2006, having bid far too much money, GNER stepped away from the contract. The government then handed it over to National Express, who, having bid far too much for the contract, ran away in 2009.
At this point, wiser heads prevailed (or nobody could be persuaded to offer stupid amounts of money), and the service was taken back under state control.
And then a funny thing happened. The service improved. Customers (formerly known as passengers) expressed increased satisfaction in those trivial things like reliability, customer service and the like. It all seemed to be going very well.
So, quite naturally, the government couldn’t allow that to continue, as it made the whole privatisation model look a bit silly, so private operators were again invited to bid far too much for the contract. This was duly awarded to a consortium of Stagecoach and Virgin, with Stagecoach by far the majority partner, so naturally it ran under the Virgin brand, taking over in 2015.
Despite the small detail that the planned new trains had been ordered by the government and would be owned by a leasing company, the new operator made a great fuss about them, implying that they were responsible for upgrading the fleet.
At the time, cynical old Les gave them a couple of years to realise they’d bid far too much and would walk away from the contract. Well, silly me! It was actually closer to three years.
Yes, as of today, the line is back under public ownership, this time operating as the London North Eastern Railway (LNER), a name salvaged from the past.
Karl Marx said something along the lines of
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce
I don’t think he was expecting the third time…