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Eurostar in Bidding to Run East Coast Mainline

east coast train

12:45pm 30th September 2013
(Updated 3:23pm 30th September 2013)

Eurostar is bidding to run the East Coast mainline which is York's main connection to London and Scotland.

The Channel Tunnel high-speed train company is launching a joint bid with French company Keolis to run the East Coast line.

We asked David Lowrie, Chief Financial Officer of Keolis UK if we could see direct trains to Paris from York.

The current government-owned East Coast has it's headquarters in York, we also asked David Lowrie if he could commit to keep the new operator's headquarters in the city.

Speaking more generally about the bid, Alistair Gordon, Chief Executive of Keolis UK, said:

“I believe that our ability to draw upon an international track record of delivering complex long-distance services, coupled with Eurostar’s reputation for customer excellence, is a unique proposition.

“What’s exciting about the East Coast Mainline is that there is an opportunity to transform a hugely important national route, which is yet to see the same levels of investment as the West Coast Mainline.

“We feel that our pedigree of international rail know-how and specifically as delivery partner for the UK’s first domestic high-speed service, makes us ideally placed to realise the East Coast Mainline’s potential.

Nicolas Petrovic, Chief Executive of Eurostar, said:

“By joining forces with Keolis, we bring a unique blend of expertise and innovation with a fresh perspective.  The East Coast franchise is a vital economic artery and a key route for both business and leisure passengers which represents an exciting opportunity for future growth and investment”

The successful bidder for East Coast, is expected to be announced in October 2014, with the new franchise starting in February 2015.

But York Central MP Hugh Bayley has been among those calling for the rail line to stay owned by the government.

Speaking to Minster FM in March he said: “In November, 2009 the Department for Transport had to rescue the east coast main line after franchise holder, National Express, pulled out. The Labour Government created East Coast, a publicly owned company, which currently operates the service.  East Coast has improved the service and it contributed twice as much to the Treasury last year as its private sector predecessor did in 2008/09.

“Rail privatisation is still controversial after 20 years.  Services have improved and more people use the railways, but both fares and public subsidies have increased.  The Government is re-franchising the West Coast service.  It would make sense to compare public and private services over the 15 year term of the next west coast franchise to see which delivers most in terms of service improvements and value for money for passengers and the Government.”

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