Plans for the first direct services from Middlesbrough to London have been revealed.
The government has announced that Stagecoach and Virgin will run the East Coast franchise from next year. The joint venture will be called Inter City Railways.
How this will benefit the North East:
- Proposals for more trains to London from Newcastle
- Plans for direct services to Middlesbrough and Thornaby from London
- Improved ticket offices at Darlington, Durham, Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed stations
- Better cycling facilities and free wi-fi at Darlington, Durham and Berwick-upon-Tweed stations
- 3,100 extra seats across for the morning peak times by 2020
- 65 trains brought into passenger service from 2018
- £140 million investment package to improve trains and stations across the 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.”
A consortium involving Virgin Trains and Stagecoach will run the East Coast main line franchise from next year.
There had been speculation that French company Keolis and Eurotunnel had been chosen. The consortium will take over in March.
The decision marks the return to the private sector for East Coast, which has been run by the Department for Transport since 2009.
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These scenes at Wansbeck are mirrored at picket lines across the country as NHS workers take part in a four hour strike. It is in protest of the government's decision not to accept a recommended 1%pay rise for all NHS workers.
"Robust plans" are in place to protect patients during a four-hour strike by thousands of health workers today, NHS England said.
Around 150 police officers will drive or help crew ambulances in London as part of the plans, with paramedics among those walking out in the row over pay.
NHS organisations have tried and tested plans to deal with a range of disruptions including industrial action.
We are working with the NHS to ensure there are robust plans for November 24 that protect the safety, welfare and service provided to patients.
Unions have accused the Government of lying over NHS pay as health workers across the country take to the picket lines.
The Government said it had put forward plans to guarantee all staff would get at least 1% this year and next, but they had been rejected by the unions.
Unison leader Dave Prentis said: "It's ludicrous that the Government is keeping up the pretence that all staff are getting a 1% pay rise, and it doesn't matter how often they say it; it's simply not true."
He said the 1% pay rise recommended by the independent NHS Pay Review Body for all NHS workers had been rejected by the Government.
A Department of Health spokesman said: "NHS staff are our greatest asset and we want to make the current pay system fairer - which is why we have put forward proposals that would guarantee all staff would get at least a 1% pay rise this year and next, but these have been rejected by the unions.
"We have taken tough decisions to increase the NHS budget, but we can't afford a consolidated pay rise in addition to increments without risking 10,000 frontline jobs."
NHS workers will stage a four-hour strike today in a row with the Government over pay.
Midwives, nurses, radiographers, paramedics and psychiatric staff will walk out from 7am in England and 8am in Northern Ireland in protest at the Government's refusal to accept a recommended 1% wage rise for all NHS employees.
Unison leader Dave Prentis said the second strike in a month should "sound alarm bells" in Westminster as the "anger is spreading".
A Department of Health spokesperson said the government "can't afford a consolidated pay rise in addition to increments without risking 10,000 frontline jobs".
The Tees Valley is to benefit from a £190 million in government investment.
The funding package was officially signed by Local Growth Minister Penny Mordaunt today (Thursday 20 November).
The Tees Valley Growth deal is part of a £12 billion government programme to revitalise local economies.
It is hoped that the money will provide a major boost to the local economy by creating up to 1,000 jobs, building up to 1,500 homes and strengthening transport links for local businesses.