All sold out
At the last two Labour Party conferences deputy prime minister John Prescott won acclaim from delegates for promising to take rail franchises away from companies that let down the public. But the reality is turning out to be very different.
Stagecoach has been shortlisted for the new 20-year franchise at South West Trains (SWT). SWT was fined �3.9 million for appalling delays, overcrowding and cancellations in the last financial year.
Stagecoach currently receives nearly �55 million in subsidy to provide this service. The likely winner of the franchise for Chiltern Railways is the current operator of M40 Trains. M40 savagely cut services from some stations in 1997, and it was cancelling so many trains in 1998 it was ordered to spend �2.5 million on "passenger benefits" as punishment.