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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

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.

New carpets, new seat covers, faster trains - Virgin Group outlines benefits

The Director of Corporate Affairs for the Virgin Group Richard Scott has outlined the benefits which will come from the new east coast train franchise.

He says it will mean faster journeys in refurbished trains. And you'll be abe to order food from your seat with a new phone app, he says.

For Richard Scott's full comments click below.

East Coast bids may include new routes to Middlesbrough and Sunderland

Companies bidding to run trains on the East Coast Mainline will have the chance to serve five new routes, to Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Harrogate, Scarborough and Huddersfield.

The successful bidder will be expected to continue current services to all destinations Credit: Martin Keene/PA

The government has invited three companies to submit details bids for the rail franchise East Coast, which has been in public hands since 2009.

The invitation to tender also includes a preference for faster and more frequent services to and from King's Cross and faster average journey times to Leeds and Edinburgh, from May 2020.

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East Coast bidders invited to tender for franchise

Three companies have invited to submit detailed bids to run the East Coast franchise, which operates trains on the East Coast Mainline between London and Edinburgh.

  • Inter City Railways Limited (Stagecoach Transport Holdings Limited and Virgin Holdings Limited)
  • Keolis/Eurostar East Coast Limited (Keolis (UK) Limited and Eurostar International Limited)
  • East Coast Trains Ltd (First Group plc).

The franchise has been in government hands since November 2009, when National Express gave it up, saying it could not afford to run it any more. Government plans to re-privatise the service have been subject to protests from those who feel it would be better left in public ownership.

The successful bidder is expected to be announced in November. The new franchise will start in March 2015 and run for eight years with the possibility of a one-year extension.

Protests over re-privatisation of East Coast

Campaigners against the re-privatisation of the rail company East Coast will be demonstrating along the route this morning.

The campaign to keep East Coast in public hands has been supported by 60 MPs Credit: Martin Keene/PA

Action for Rail is joining trade unions in saying the company is better off in public ownership, but the government says directly running East Coast was only a short-term plan.

The protest will be held at stations between Edinburgh and Kings Cross, including Newcastle Central and Durham. It has been timed to coincide with the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference, in York.

East Coast lifts ticket restrictions and advises early travel

East Coast trains has lifted all ticket restrictions for this evening as another storm closes in.

The train operator is advising passengers to travel as early as possible as forecasters predict wind speeds of up to 70 miles per hour across the North East.

We have been closely monitoring weather conditions and taking advice from the Met Office throughout the day.

Our advice to all customers is to complete journeys as early as possible this evening, to check before setting out, and to allow extra time to make your journey.

– East Coast spokesman

More trains for Sunderland v Man City clash

East Coast is to run additional train services between the North East and London to help Sunderland fans following their team to the Capital One Cup Final against Manchester City.

Thousands of Black Cats supporters are expected to make the journey south to cheer on their team at Wembley Stadium in the Wearsiders’ first Cup Final appearance for 22 years on Sunday, 2 March.

Full details of train times and lowest fares for the extra trains are exclusively available online via the East Coast website,www.eastcoast.co.uk.

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