East coast main line trains back in public hands again next month

Chris Grayling

United Kingdom government will take back control of the running of the rail route between London and Edinburgh from private operator Stagecoach (temporarily) after the company failed to make the contract work financially.

Virgin Trains East Coast is the third private operator to fail to complete the full length of a contract to run services on the East Coast route.

VTEC was awarded the East Coast Main Line franchise for eight years following a bidding process in 2014.

Mr Grayling said: "In February, I gave the House an update on the financial problems on the East Coast Mainline, and indicated the current franchise would run out of money within months".

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Your journeys on the East Coast Mainline will be unaffected during the transition to the new operator, tickets, timetables, and train services will all stay the same, even though a different operator will be in charge.

Stagecoach and Virgin were supposed to run services on the line until 2013, but the government had previously agreed to let them walk away from the agreement three years early.

The decision to end the £3.3bn contract this year has been described as a "bailout" by Labour and trade unions.

In a stock market statement, Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths, said: "We are surprised and disappointed that the Department for Transport has chosen not to proceed with our proposals".

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"However, we respect the Government's decision".

Stagecoach Group said its understanding was that the announcement does not directly affect other franchises and bids for franchises in which the company has an involvement. During that time, we have attracted more passengers, greatly increased investment, achieved industry leading customer satisfaction and made significant payments to the taxpayer to reinvest in public services.

"East Coast is now the top-rated franchised train service in Great Britain - with 92 per cent overall satisfaction with the last journey in the latest National Rail Passenger Survey".

"Three times in under a decade, private companies have failed on the East Coast".

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"Britain's railways should be run, successfully, as a public service, not for private profit".

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