- Tyne Tees
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Bids can begin for the East Coast mainline after the Government invited private companies to takeover the running of the service within the next two years.
Virgin Trains had already registered their interest within hours of the announcement - and more companies are set to follow.
The line was nationalised in 2009 when National Express struggled to meet their costs, but the Government now say that it is in the interest of passengers for it to be handed back to a private company.
However, unions believe that the move would waste millions of pounds.
You can watch the full report from Dan Ashby below.
The government has announced that the North East's most important rail route will be run by a private company within two years time.
Bidding opened today for the East Coast mainline, and already Virgin Trains has expressed an interest.
Our correspondent Dan Ashby joined Pam in the studio to explain more about what the move to privatisation could mean for the North East.
York MP Hugh Bayley has been speaking to Calendar about the announcement to open the East Coast mainline to franchise bids.
Virgin confirms it is planning to bid for the East Coast line franchise.
The East Coast rail line runs from London to Scotland's major cities, including Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow.
Over three years ago the line had to be nationalised because operator National Express revealed it couldn't afford to pay the franchise. The company was commited to a £1.4 billion contract.
No formal bidders have yet been confirmed, but it could reignite competition between Virgin Trains and FirstGroup who went head-to-head to run the West Coast line.
Transport Minister Simon Burns has been speaking to us about the Government's announcement to open bids to take over the running of the East Coast mainline.
Rail unions reacted with dismay to the East Coast news, pointing out that the private sector had twice given up the franchise, with GNER pulling out some years ago.
They also highlighted the fact that the taxpayer is likely to have to foot a bill as high as £50 million over the botched West Coast franchise.
Maria Eagle MP, Shadow Transport Secretary, has responded to the Government’s plans for rail franchising:
The East Coast main line is expected to be back in private hands in less than two years under rail franchise plans announced by the Government.
The line has been run under the control of the Department for Transport since November 2009 after transport company National Express pulled out.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced the start of a bidding competition for the East Coast franchise with an expected start of service by the new operator in February 2015.
He also published a detailed timetable for all rail franchise arrangements over the next eight years, following a major review after the West Coast bidding process had to be abandoned last year.
East Coast have released a statement about the planned return of the franchise to privatisation.
A full statement from an East Coast spokesperson can be read below:
"We always believed that a return of this franchise to the private sector was inevitable.
"Since we took over in 2009, we have repaid more than £640m to the taxpayer, achieved record-breaking customer satisfaction and the best performance on the route since records began in 1999.
"We are working on a plan for the next five years of the franchise which will consider some major decisions and projections for growth. This will be available to assist the future owner, whoever that is."