Protest marks East Coast death knell

Protestors at Arbroath Station with coffin to mark death of rail services....David Mumford and Mac Nicoll carry their 'coffin' into Arbroath railway station'Pic Paul Reid
Protestors at Arbroath Station with coffin to mark death of rail services....David Mumford and Mac Nicoll carry their 'coffin' into Arbroath railway station'Pic Paul Reid

Rail passengers in Arbroath were greeted with a dramatic sight on Saturday morning as campaigners protested against the state of British rail provision.

Radical Independence (Angus and Mearns), along with the Scottish Green Party, was in Arbroath train station with a mocked up coffin to mark the final rail service to pass through the town operated by East Coast.

In addition to the coffin which bore the legend ‘RIP East Coast’ the group handed out leaflets for Bring Back British Rail, a campaign backed by trade unions, the Green Party, the Campaign Against Climate Change and various other organisations.

According to Dave Coull from Radical Independence (Angus and Mearns) the demonstration was well received.

He said: “We had our banner on display and we also had this makeshift coffin which was symbolising the death of publicly accountable rail transport and also the very last service on the East Coast Line franchise.

“We got quite a positive response from people. They certainly seemed interested in what we were doing.

“Some people didn’t understand what was happening but everybody took a leaflet and we could see them reading them right away or putting them in their pocket to read later, which was a good thing.”

Inter City Railways Ltd (ICRL), a subsidiary jointly owned by Stagecoach and Virgin Trains, took over the East Coast franchise at the weekend. The firms have promised to invest £140 million in the route over eight years, and will pay Westminster £3.3 billion for the contract.

The previous day Green MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas was supposed to present for a second reading in the House of Commons her Public Services (Ownership and User Involvement) Bill on the topic of greater public ownership of public services such as the rail network. Time constraints however forced this to be rescheduled for Friday, March 27. Mr Coull added: “It means that this whole thing will go on longer but we never really expected anything to happen immediately anyway. Of course we accept it is an ongoing campaign.”