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Miliband joins in row over East Coast Main Line privatisation
PASSENGERS on the East Coast Main Line will be furious if a rail firm makes hundreds of millions of pounds of profits when it is re-privatised, according to Ed Miliband.
The Labour leader steps into the row over the move – at the end of this year – to bring an end to three years of public control of the route between London and the North- East.
In an interview at Westminster, Mr Miliband said it was time to “look openly at the future of the railways” – including nationalisation of some lines.
He said: “There’s a deep sense of resentment that people feel that the privatised rail companies are making hundreds of millions of pounds of profits.
“Yet season tickets prices, are going up by as much as ten per cent a year. We will look openly at the future of the railways.”
Mr Miliband added: “The really important thing is not to be dogmatic – to say it must be private sector, or it must be public sector.
“Let’s look at what’s going to work for the railways.”
During the interview – on the eve of tomorrow’s start of the Labour Party Annual Conference, in Manchester – Mr Miliband said the theme of the five-day gathering would be rebuilding Britain.
He promised that Labour would be putting forward solutions – in particular to the economic crisis – after criticism that the party has failed to set out effective alternatives to the coalition.
Mr Miliband said: “I think people voted for change two-and-a-half years ago, but they have seen things get worse, not better, under this Government.
“We will be putting forward solutions, in particular to the economic crisis that our country is facing, and showing how we can build an economy that works – not just for a few people at the top, but for all people right across the country.”
Other announcements would focus on prices and living standards, help for small businesses and “the jobs crisis that is affecting so many people”.
Mr Miliband also said Labour would oppose moves to introduce local pay for public sector workers – which threatens years of pay freezes for some, including in the North-East.
He said: “First, it’s not fair because it’s saying ‘If you live outside London, you’ll be paid less’, and it will cut your wages and make life more difficult for you.
“Secondly, the evidence is that it doesn’t necessarily lead to better outcomes in terms of spending.
“You can get inflationary pressure building up, as one region competes against another.”
Mr Miliband added: “I think national pay bargaining has served us well, in fairness terms and also in cost and economic terms.”