Monday, 28 May, 2018

East Coast main line trains back in public hands next month

Andy Street was chief executive of John Lewis Andy Street was chief executive of John Lewis
Sammy Stanley | 16 May, 2018, 17:31

His remarks come in response to Chris Grayling's announcement that the failed East Coast franchise will be taken over by the DfT in June in order to smoothen the transition to a brand-new East Coast Partnership, which will operate as a public-private partnership similar to South Eastern.

The Stagecoach-dominated firm will be replaced by a public sector "operator of last resort" which will revive the historic name London North Eastern Railway (LNER).

Rail services on the East Coast Main Line will be brought back under public control following the termination of the franchise agreement with Virgin Trains and the Stagecoach Group.

The company also has already funded its full GBP165 million loan commitment to the East Coast franchise.

The move comes just over three years after Virgin Trains East Coast started running under a franchise of Virgin Trains and Stagecoach. He reiterated that, as the proposed East Coast Partnership contractual structure evolved, the ECML infrastructure would remain in the hands of the public sector via NR.

Stagecoach, which has operated the line with Virgin Trains since 2015, says it has been advised that an "operator of last resort" would be appointed to run the London to Edinburgh service.

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Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths said he was "surprised and disappointed".

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told parliament the East Coast Main Line franchise would be halted after it made considerable losses under a private company.

He said the aim was to create a new public-private partnership from 2020, with "one simple team operating the railway".

"After three shambolic private sector failures on the East Coast the message should now sink in that these cowboys can not be trusted and should be locked out of the system on a permanent basis". So I am instructing the new board, working with my officials, to bring forward proposals which enable employees to share directly in the success of LNER both as a pure train operator and subsequently as the new partnership.

He said: 'It's important staff and passengers are properly protected while, once again, the transport secretary tries to patch up a failing franchise system that everyone knows doesn't work.

The government has said that it does not intend to strip Virgin and Stagecoach of the franchising passports which they hold, and thus they would be able to bid for future franchises.

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