PROTESTS have been taking place across the country against the Government’s controversial plan to sell off the East Coast Main Line.

Campaigners gathered at stations up and down the line - including York, Durham and Newcastle – to greet travellers and press home their argument.

The protest by Action for Rail was deliberately timed to co-incide with the beginning of the Liberal-Democrats’ spring conference in York this weekend.

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The campaign, backed by the TUC and railway unions, is fighting the Government’s proposals to re-privatise the route – the only remaining publicly-owned railway in the UK.

It has been in public ownership since 2009, after two previous private train operators were forced to bail out of the franchise for financial reasons.

But last October ministers announced plans to re-privatise the line and more than 60 MPs have since signed an early day motion calling on the government to keep the line public.

The campaigners argue that Directly Operated Railways – the public operator of the line – has achieved record levels of customer satisfaction and provided the highest returns to the taxpayer while receiving the lowest public subsidy among all the train companies.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Privatising the East Coast defies all logic. Since it was re-nationalised the line has gone from strength to strength.

“This decision shows the government is clinging on to its outdated faith in privatisation at all costs and is determined to remain blind to the fact that public ownership has been a success for taxpayers and passengers alike.”