Lincoln-London trains in doubt as franchise collapses

Lincoln-London trains in doubt as franchise collapses

But he opted for an Operator of Last Resort controlled by the DfT to begin the transition towards a public-private body named East Coast Partnership.

But the contract will be terminated on June 24, Mr Grayling said, and the line will be re-named the London and North Eastern Railway, the LNER.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is due to confirm later this afternoon that he will bring the line back into public ownership following a string of failures.

Majority East Coast shareholder Stagecoach Group said: "We have now been advised by the Department for Transport that the secretary of state plans to announce today that he intends to appoint the "Operator of Last Resort" to operate InterCity East Coast".

But when in private hands it failed not once, but three times, and the government has had to bail out the franchise once again.

The London to Edinburgh line has been run by a joint venture between Stagecoach and Virgin, for the last three years.

Grayling said: "The route continues to generate substantial returns for the government".

Calls for the East Coast Main Line to be re-nationalised have finally been met by the government after it announced the route is to be stripped from Virgin and Stagecoach.

Chris Grayling on a visit to York last week
Chris Grayling on a visit to York last week

After 2020 the aim is that there will be much closer cooperation between state-owned Network Rail, which owns the track infrastructure, and whoever is operating the train service.

He added that he has received "official advice" that restrictions should not be placed on Virgin and Stagecoach's "passport" which entitles them to bid for future rail franchises, as "there is no suggestion of either malpractice or malicious intent".

The government is set to renationalise the East Coast mainline, one of Britain's busiest railway lines.

Later he said on Twitter that while he supported the UK Government move to running the East Coast mainline as Operator of Last Resort they have failed this franchise three times in the last ten years.

Stagecoach said it and Virgin had been negotiating for a new contract with the Department for Transport but that it understood Mr Grayling was "no longer considering" them for the deal.

Employees working for Virgin Trains East Coast will transfer over to LNER. Quite the contrary. The disciplines of private sector operation returned more investment and better returns to taxpayers than public sector operation did.

Stagecoach Group, which owns 90% of VTEC, said it was "surprised and disappointed" with the government decision.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: "Whichever organisation runs East Coast services, under whatever new arrangements, passengers will be looking for the quality of current services to be maintained and built on".


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