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East Coast contract signed by City Railways

The Department for Transport today confirmed it has officially signed the East Coast rail franchise contract with Inter City Railways, a venture between Stagecoach and Virgin.

A spokesman says the eight-year deal will give passengers between Edinburgh and London more seats, more services and new trains from March next year.

East Coaast trains stop at Newcastle, Durham, York, Darlington and Berwick-upon-Tweed.

East Coast services are coming under new ownership Credit: East Coast

“This is a fantastic deal which will give passengers on this vital route more seats, more services and new trains, and give British taxpayers outstanding value for money. With the signing of the contract, Stagecoach and Virgin are firmly on track to deliver these improvements. The new services have only been made possible by the government’s investment in the railways, a vital part of our long term economic plan.”

– TRANSPORT SECRETARY PATRICK MCLOUGHLIN

However the move has been strongly criticised by trade unions and some Labour MPs.

East Coast has been under public ownership since 2009.

Mick Cash from the RMT union described its privatisation as a "national disgrace" and said the current arrangement was earning the British people £1 billion:

It is a national disgrace and an act of utter betrayal that the government has confirmed that it is bulldozing ahead with the re-privatisation of the East Coast Main Line despite all the figures showing that the current public sector operator is handing over a billion pounds back to the British people while delivering huge improvements in service and customer satisfaction.

The decision to hand this profitable and successful public rail operation back to the vultures from Virgin/Stagecoach is based purely on hard-right political ideology and RMT is committed to continuing the fight to block this betrayal right up to polling day and beyond.

– MICK CASH, GENERAL SECRETARY RMT

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Transport Secretary says further dualling of A1 'will need to be looked at'

The Transport Secretary talks to reporters near the A1 Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

The Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has visited the A1 in Northumberland, in the week that a major upgrade of the road was announced.

£290m will be spent on the improvements, which will include a dualling of single carriageway sections between Morpeth and Ellingham, north of Alnwick. The news follows years of campaigning by local residents and businesses.

There will also be some work on the stretch between Ellingham and Berwick, including improvements to junctions and overtaking lanes, though this section will remain single carriageway.

Mr McLoughlin described the announcement as a 'massive investment'.

He told ITV Tyne Tees there would always be a case for taking the work further and this would need to be looked at in the future.

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Le Tour tripled advance camping and caravan bookings

Bookings for camping and caravan sites across Yorkshire tripled as a result of this year's Tour de France.

A report released today showed the event generated £102 million for the county's economy.

Simon McGrath, editor of Camping and Caravanning Magazine says statistics show that advance bookings to their sites went up by more than 300 per cent:

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Le Tour bosses 'delighted' with economic benefits

Le Tour bosses 'delighted' with economic benefits

We’re absolutely delighted the event brought so much money to the county to help businesses big and small, and there are benefits for the county which are impossible to measure - the profile of Yorkshire around the world has never been higher and this will have a lasting impact on visitor numbers and businesses for years and years to come.

– Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire Gary Verity

The three opening stages of the 2014 Tour de France confirmed the UK’s reputation for staging world-class sporting events with a world-class level of organisational flair. It was a great privilege to have been part of it.

– Chair of TdFHUB2014 Ltd Sir Rodney Walker

The three UK stages set a new standard not just in terms of the amazing support but also because it inspired so many people, young and old, to get on their bikes.

– President of British Cycling Bob Howden
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Tour de France report: Key figures

A report out today shows that le Grand Départ generated over £100 million for Yorkshire's economy.

Some of the key findings are listed below, revealing the social and economic benefits found for the county:

Revellers enjoy the buildup to the race
  • Over the course of the three days the race was watched at the roadside by a total crowd of 4.8million
  • The race was watched in person by approximately one in four people in the whole of Yorkshire and the Humber region
  • The event attracted 113,000 visitors from outside the UK, generating £33m into the UK economy
  • The Tour provided £24.3m benefit to the accommodation sector in the host areas
  • 18.6million people followed the race on television or on other devices in the UK
  • 92 per cent of spectators who watched the Yorkshire stages felt the Tour had been positive for the region, as well as 79% of those who attended stage 3
  • The Yorkshire Festival 2014, the first of its kind, saw more than 800,000 people attend more than 2,000 performances of arts and culture in the 100 days leading up to the Grand Départ
  • The official website letouryorkshire.com received two million visits during the week of the Tour starting, with over eight million page views

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Grand Depart gave region a £102m economic boost

A report out today on the economic and social impact of this summer's Tour De France's Grand Depart , which started in Leeds and went through West, North and South Yorkshire over two days, will reveal that it produced a £102 million boost for Yorkshire.

Around two and half million spectators lined the route over the first two days.

Tour De France Credit: ITV Yorkshire

Council leader to "send Chancellor a map"

Newcastle council leader Nick Forbes says he is going to send George Osborne a map so that he realises that a "northern powerhouse" would stretch as far as the North East.

Cllr Forbes says he will mark Newcastle on the map so that the Chancellor doesn't ignore his city when there's talk of a northern powerhouse, which includes Manchester and Leeds.

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