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Pictures: Richard Branson visits Newcastle

Tycoon Sir Richard Branson is in Newcastle to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The owner of the Virgin business empire is at an event for young people at the Northern Stage theatre.

It comes just two days after a consortium involving Virgin took over train services on the East Coast mainline.

Sir Richard Branson in Newcastle Credit: ITV

It is three years since Virgin Money took over Northern Rock, the failed Newcastle-based bank.

Sir Richard with Brian Souter Credit: ITV

Sir Richard Branson amused the press when he pointing out that Stagecoach co-founder Brian Souter usually wears red trainers and that he had worn his to match.

Joking around on stage Credit: ITV
Virgin Start-Up event Credit: ITV

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Richard Branson looking to inspire North East young

Richard Branson. Credit: PA

Tycoon Sir Richard Branson will be in Newcastle later to try and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The owner of the Virgin business empire will be attending an event for young people at the Northern Stage theatre.

It comes just two days after a consortium involving Virgin took over train services on the East Coast mainline.

It is three years since Virgin Money took over Northern Rock, the failed Newcastle-based bank.

East Coast: 'Best deal for passengers"

The East Coast rail line becomes privately run from today after more than five years in the public sector.

The route which links London with Edinburgh has been operated by the Department for Transport since 2009. But it has now been jointly taken over by Virgin and Stagecoach.

Protests were held yesterday by the RMT union, which has described the handover as an "act of gross national betrayal of the British people".

A Department for Transport spokesman said they were confident that the new East Coast franchise gave the best deal for passengers - providing more seats, more services, new trains and over £140 million of investment along the route.

The skills and experience that the private sector provides drives forward innovation and investment, and has helped to transform our rail network into a real success story.

– – DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT SPOKESMAN

Shadow Transport Secretary Michael Dugher said the ending of the state-run East Coast company was "a hammer blow for passengers, taxpayers and employees alike".

David Cameron's ideological sell-off has ended a public sector service which has delivered over £1 billion to the Treasury, kept fares down, had record passenger satisfaction and engaged the workforce with unparalleled success. It is clear that when it comes to transport, people have a straight choice - the status quo or Labour's better plan. Labour will start the process of legislating in the first 100 days of a new parliament to allow a public sector operator to be able to take on lines and challenge the private sector on a genuinely level playing field.

– – SHADOW TRANSPORT SECRETARY MICHAEL DUGHER

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East Coast trains back in private hands

Trains between London, the North East and Scotland return to private hands Credit: Martin Keene/PA

Trains on the East Coast Main Line are back in private control today, as services are taken over by a consortium involving Virgin Trains and Stagecoach.

The line, which links the North East with London and Edinburgh, was brought into public hands in November 2009. It has since been run by a company under the control of the Government.

From this morning, trains will operate under the name Virgin Trains East Coast. Services carrying the new livery will be unveiled tomorrow, Monday 2nd March.

The decision to re-privatise East Coast has been criticised by the rail union, the RMT, and some North East Labour MPs, who said the arrangement had been working well for passengers and taxpayers.

The eight year deal includes a promise of new trains, more services and extra seats.

Dalton Park expansion to create 600 retail jobs

This artist's impression shows the extent of the finished development Credit: Dalton Park Retail

The Dalton Park retail outlet in County Durham is to be expanded over the next year, creating 600 jobs.

Work will start in May 2015 and end on May Day 2016. A further 400 people will be employed in construction jobs while the work is carried out.

It will cost £45m and create a cinema with seven screens and a new Morrisons supermarket, as well as a hotel, a pub and several restaurants and fast-food outlets.

The extension includes a cinema and restaurants Credit: Dalton Park
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325 job losses at Wonga due to restructuring

325 job losses at Wonga due to restructuring Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Wonga has announced restructuring which expected to lead to the loss of 325 jobs.

The payday lender currently employs around 950 people and said the losses come as it aims to, "refocus on its consumer businesses."

Wonga can no longer sustain its high cost base which must be significantly reduced to reflect our evolving business and market. Regrettably, this means we’ve had to take tough but necessary decisions about the size of our workforce. We appreciate how difficult this period will be for all of our colleagues and we’ll support them throughout the consultation process.

– Andy Haste, Chairman, Wonga

The move is hoped to save the company £25 million over the next two years. Wonga said costs at the company tripled between 2012-2014.

There will now be a 30 day consultation period for those who are at risk of losing their jobs.

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