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UK unions want rail network back under government control

In what is fast becoming a government v union battle of wills, it has been revealed that the unions want the UK government to maintain control of the former National Express rail franchise, the East Coast main line.

This is the rail franchise which National Express effectively gave back to the government because of increased losses and the impact it was having on the company's balance sheet. In what many believe is phase 1 of a nationalisation of the rail network, unions are putting the UK government under immense pressure to maintain control of the East Coast main line. This comes at a time when rail workers are threatening more industrial action over pay and working conditions, pushing the UK government into a very tight corner.

Even though the authorities are committed to a free market in the rail network, there are concerns that reduce profitability across the board is placing more and more pressure on rail franchisees. If this continues, we could see a reduction in the standard of rail travel in the UK and a significant fall in investment in the short to medium term. The government needs to balance these particular issues against a possible nationalisation of the network, something which is not easy to achieve.

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