East Coast director: 'Businesses should be run by the private sector'

MT ARCHIVE: With the East Coast main line franchise awarded to Stagecoach and Virgin trains today, MT looks back at its commercial director Peter Williams' case for privatisation.

by Gabriella Griffith, Rachel Savage

The eight year, £3.3bn contract to run the East Coast main line was awarded to Stagecoach and Virgin Trains this morning (albeit with Virgin, in which Stagecoach has a 49% stake, owning a mere 10% of the joint venture), prompting the predictable outcry from Labour and the unions that a franchise that had been profitably run by a taxpayer-owned company since 2009 was being returned to private hands.

The relative success of the East Coast line in that time is, of course, an argument for it staying in public hands. But naysayers might also want to read this interview with the East Coast's current commercial director Peter Williams last October, in which he argued, 'commercial businesses should be run by the private sector'.

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