Or perhaps we might not be all that surprised. Stagecoach has announced its results and the bit that all are interested in is the East Coast Line. They're the private operator who took the line out of the Direct Management Organisation. That's when the government was running it directly and it was making a profit, thus a payment into state coffers.
This of course prompted cries that if a railway could make a profit in state operation, then renationalise them all!
Stagecoach says it has overpaid for East Coast rail contract as profitability plunges
Isn't that great? Well, perhaps not if you're a Stagecoach shareholder but for us taxpayers we've got lots of extra lolly.
Andy McDonald, the shadow transport minister, said the East Coast line – the scene of a dispute between Jeremy Corbyn and Virgin East Coast about overcrowding – showed privatised rail was “dysfunctional, broken and needed to be brought to an end”. The RMT union said re-privatising the line had been a “gamble doomed to failure”.
The normal sorts of comments from the normal sorts of people. But this is odd from The G:
The dispute raises the possibility that Stagecoach could end up paying something closer to the £235m that state-owned Directly Operated Railways (DOR) did in the final year of a franchise it took on in 2009, when the government seized control from National Express.
Erm, what? From the Stagecoach accounts:
As a result, Virgin Trains East Coast has amongst the highest customer satisfaction of any franchised rail operator. At the same time, Virgin Trains East Coast has continued to meet its contractual and financial obligations, including delivering around £525m to 29 April 2017 in premium payments to the taxpayer. This is around 30% more than the average monthly payments made by Directly Operated Railways when it ran the East Coast route.
Privatisation means that we, we taxpayers, get more money from the line than when government ran it directly? Isn't that proof that privatisation of the railways works?
And might not The Guardian tell us so? For that's the one thing they manage not to mention, that the profit from the line for all of us is higher under this arrangement. Isn't that odd.