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Shadow Transport Secretary: public 'sold down the river'

Virgin will be running the UK's two main London to Scotland rail routes in 2015. The Government announced today that a consortium involving Virgin Group and Stagecoach had been chosen to operate a new eight-year East Coast franchise.

Virgin and Stagecoach already operate the West Coast main line.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the new franchise was "a fantastic deal for passengers and for staff on this vital route" and would give passengers "more seats, more services and new trains".

But shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher disagrees. He says the travelling public had been "sold down the river".

"The taxpayer and the travelling public have been sold down the river. This whole franchise process shouldn't have happened.

"East Coast 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, David Cameron's Government should have been putting the public interest first and working to get a better deal for passengers."

"It's absurd that our own public operator is the only rail company in the world that has been barred from challenging to run its own services, on the ideological grounds that it is British and publicly owned."

– Shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher

Unite calls East Coast decision a 'betrayal'

Len McCluskey, the Unite general secretary, has branded the East Coast decision a 'betrayal'.

A consortium involving Virgin Trains and Stagecoach will run the East Coast main line franchise from next year. The decision marks the return to the private sector for East Coast, which has been run by the Department for Transport since 2009.

"This nakedly political decision to rush through this reprivatisation before the general election is a betrayal of the taxpayers and staff who have made East Coast a success.

"Rail privatisation has spectacularly failed both taxpayers and the travelling public. Rather than one that has glued itself to a failed dogma, we need a government that puts the people and our national bank balance first."

– Len McCluskey, the Unite general secretary

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Rail union calls East Coast decision 'hugely disappointing'

The general secretary of the train drivers' union Aslef, Mick Whelan, has described the East Coast announcement as 'hugely disappointing'.

It was announced that a consortium involving Virgin Trains and Stagecoach will run the East Coast main line.

"Today's announcement is a hugely disappointing and short-sighted decision which puts dogma ahead of all right thinking and common sense.

"The East Coast has delivered excellent value and service for both passengers and taxpayers in the public sector over the last five years. All of this is now lost."

– Mick Whelan, general secretary of the train drivers' union Aslef

CCTV released after Gateshead assault

CCTV

Police have released CCTV after a man was assaulted in Gateshead.

A 51-year-old man was punched by another man while trying to break up a fight in Durham Road, Low Fell, on September 28.

He was knocked unconscious and suffered a head injury.

Enquiries are ongoing and police are releasing images of a man they want to speak to about the incident. He was seen in the area around the time of the assault and may have information that could help them.

Transport Secretary: 'Stagecoach and Virgin will deliver '

The Transport Secretary has said he believes the East Coast announcement is good for the taxpayer. A consortium involving Virgin Trains and Stagecoach will run the East Coast main line franchise from next year. Patrick McLoughlin says £38billion will be spent on the network.

“This is a fantastic deal for passengers and for staff on this vital route. It gives passengers more seats, more services and new trains.

“We are putting passengers at the heart of the service. I believe Stagecoach and Virgin will not only deliver for customers but also for the British taxpayer.

“This government knows the importance of our railways. That is why they are a vital part of our long term economic plan, with over £38 billion being spent on the network over the next five years.”

– Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin

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Stagecoach promise new, faster services on East Coast

Stagecoach are pledging faster and more frequent trains, and new services following the announcement the firm, along with Virgin Trains, have won the franchise to run the East Coast mainline.

The franchise has been run by the Department for Transport since 2009.

"Passengers using the East Coast mainline will benefit from hundreds of millions of pounds of infrastructure investment and service improvements over the next decade.

"Together with Virgin, our innovative plans will give customers new services, faster and more frequent trains, and easier, more personalised journeys.

"We will be investing in the committed East Coast people who will be joining our team, as well as delivering major programmes to help young people, communities and small businesses along one of Britain's most important routes. "We will match world-class customer service by giving a big boost to taxpayers with increased payments to Government.”

– Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive of Stagecoach Group

Brave children recognised in Newcastle ceremony

St James' Park. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The bravery and courage of 26 of our most deserving and inspirational children will be recognised later today (November 27) at a special ceremony at St James' Park in Newcastle.

Each child will receive a Brave Hearts crystal plinth in recognition of the inspirational courage and strength they have shown in battling illness or adversity.

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