The first trains have been running on the East Coast Main Line since services returned to private hands first thing this morning.
Trains between our region, London and Scotland will be operated by a franchise involving the companies Virgin and Stagecoach.
Helen Ford reports.
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.
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.
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.
George Osborne is expected to outline ambitious plans to create 50,000 new jobs in the North East over the next five years.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer will visit businesses across the region today to set out the government's long-term plan, which he said would boost the regional economy by £6billion.
He will also promise more investment in transport in the North East.
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.
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.
325 jobs are to go at Wonga as part of "a restructuring and cost reduction programme".
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.
A campaign's underway in North Yorkshire to cut VAT on tourism from 20 per cent to just five percent. The UK has one of the highest rates of tax for the tourism industry in Europe and it is claimed this deters foreign visitors and sends Brits holidaying abroad.
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A Northumbria University graduate is to speak alongside government leaders at a conference focussing on the future of British business.
Jules Quinn set up her own business, design-led tea company TheTeaShed, with the help of Northumbria University in 2011.
She will be taking part in a panel discussion at the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference in London next week.
The conference, which brings together the country’s business and political leaders, will focus on how Britain’s next government can encourage a pro-enterprise, pro-growth landscape for business.
Jules was named the Young Business Woman of the Year in 2014 and was selected by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and UKTI to launch the government’s Business is GREAT initiative last year, which named her one of the top 10 female entrepreneurs to watch in 2015.