Three Bidders Go For East Coast Franchise
11:51am 17th January 2014
The government's announced which three companies will be allowed to bid to run the East Coast mainline, which is based in York.
- East Coast Trains Ltd run by First Group plc.
- Keolis/Eurostar East Coast Limited run by Keolis (UK) Limited and Eurostar International Limited;
- Inter City Railways Limited run by Stagecoach Transport Holdings Limited and Virgin Holdings Limited.
The three will now work on their bids to operate the service from February 2015, which will include how they will use the new high-speed trains which are being introduced to the route.
Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said:
“Giving passengers more will be at the heart of the new East Coast franchise. That means new services and journeys that are faster, more punctual and more comfortable. When these companies are developing their proposals they should be looking at ways to innovate and grow the service.
“We have embarked on one of the biggest programmes of rail investment ever, with over £35 billion being spent to enhance and run our rail network over the next five years. But for our railways to continue to grow we need strong private sector partners who can invest and innovate in ways that deliver a world class service.”
The Department for Transport will start accepting bids at the end of February and the new service will start a year later.
But the decision to re-privatise the line has been controversial. The government says a long-term private company is needed to run the line and plan for the future and provide more trains serving even more destinations. But opponents say the current government-run East Coast service works well and have raised fears about whether a new firm would be based in York.
Speaking last month, York Central MP Hugh Bayley said:
Hugh Bayley MP says:
“The East Coast staff and managers rescued the service when the National Express franchise collapsed, and they have rebuilt it into a going concern. With both private franchises failing I think East Coast should have been left to run the service, especially as they are paying back far more money to the Department for Transport than the private sector companies did before them."
“At the very least East Coast ought to be able to bid to keep running the service. It is stupidly anti-British for the government to allow foreign public sector rail companies. Like Deutsche Bahn from Germany and SNCF from France to bid for the franchise, but to prevent a British public sector rail company with a proven track record of running services here from doing so."
“I wanted the Secretary of State to come to York to meet the staff and managers at East Coast’s headquarters. Each time the line is refranchised - this is the fourth time it has happened – they face the risk of being told their jobs will be moved away from York. If the secretary of State spoke with them he would learn what they have done to turn a failed business back into a successful railway, and he might even change his mind about whether it is right to put their tremendous achievements at risk all over again.”
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