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Hull MP says city has been 'left out again'

Hull MP Diana Johnson claims the city has been "left out" of plans to improve the east coast rail network.

Today it was announced the routes would be privatised with a consortium involving Virgin and Stagecoach taking over from March 2015.

Hull MP says city has been 'left out again' Credit: Press Association

Hull has been left out again in this announcement about the East Coast Line. There are no extra Hull-London or Hull-Newcastle services in this privatisation and we’re still threatened with Transpennine route cuts in order to benefit Southern England.

Worse still, there was no further news about getting Hull’s rail electrification done in time for the City of Culture 2017, so that Hull could benefit from new rolling stock that’s been promised for other parts of the country. It wasn’t a promising sign recently when the Deputy Prime Minister appeared unaware that Hull’s upgrade scheme is privately financed!

More generally, taxpayers and the travelling public have been sold short in an East Coast franchising process shouldn’t have happened. East Coast has returned over £800m to the taxpayer and has established itself as one of the best train operating companies in the country.

Rather than rigging the franchise timetable in order to sell it off before the Election, the Government should have been putting the public interest first and working to get a better deal for passengers.

– Diana Johnson MP

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Labour MP calls for halt in franchise approval

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh has urged the government to put a halt to plans to sell the East Coast trains franchise, despite a consortium involving Stagecoach and Virgin being announced as the new owners.

Wakefield MP Mary Creagh has urged the government to put a halt to plans to sell the East Coast trains franchise Credit: Press Association

Ms. Creagh, who was Shadow Secretary of State for Transport until recently, said that the contract had not yet been signed and there was still time for the government to reverse the decision:

The taxpayer and Wakefield rail passengers have been sold down the river by the government. Publicly run East Coast will have returned over £1billion to the taxpayer and is one of the best train operating companies in the country.

The contract has not yet been signed and Labour is calling for the franchise process to be halted. It’s absurd that our own public operator is the only rail company in the world barred from challenging to run its own services.

Labour has challenged this ideological nonsense. We would legislate to allow a not-for-profit public sector operator to take on and challenge train operators on a level playing field.

– Mary Creagh, MP
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New carpets, new seat covers, faster trains - Virgin Group outlines benefits

The Director of Corporate Affairs for the Virgin Group Richard Scott has outlined the benefits which will come from the new east coast train franchise.

He says it will mean faster journeys in refurbished trains. And you'll be abe to order food from your seat with a new phone app, he says.

For Richard Scott's full comments click below.

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East Coast: the facts and figures

East Coast train Credit: East Coast

Here are some key facts and figures about East Coast main line rail company.

It has been announced that a consortium involving Virgin Trains and Stagecoach will run the East Coast main line franchise from next year.

  • Passenger journeys have increased by 1.1m in the past five years.
  • Journeys between Scotland and London have increased by 23%.
  • Customer satisfaction has increased from 89% in 2009 to 91% in 2014.
  • Revenue has increased from £581.3m in 2008-2009 to £652.6m to 2013-14.
  • East Coast invested £48m since 2009.
  • The taxpayer has received £1 billion back in premium payments and profits.
  • In partnership with Network Rail, redeveloped Newcastle station through an £8.6 million investment
  • East Coast - based in York - employs 2,800 people based at stations, depots and offices from London to Inverness.
  • East Coast’s Highland Chieftain service is Britain’s longest single continuous train journey operating daily between London and Inverness, a distance of 581 miles, and taking 8 hours and 6 minutes.
  • Since the spring of 2011, East Coast has been recognised by numerous industry organisations, and the Company has been the recipient of 55 such awards

Transport Secretary: Franchise to serve places which haven't been served before

The Transport Secretary says the new franchise which will take over the running of East Coast trains will bring services to places which have never had them.

Huddersfield, Harrogate, Lincoln and Dewsbury are among the places to be promised new or increased services.

Patrick McLoughlin says it is a good story for the East Coast:

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