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Rail unions seek review over East Coast privatisation

Three rail unions are calling for a judicial review into the Government's decision to privatise the East Coast mainline.

Review requested into East Coast privatisation
Review requested into East Coast privatisation Credit: Press Association

ASLEF, RMT and TSSA believe that their members’ jobs and conditions, as well as the interests of passengers and taxpayers, are threatened by the Government’s failure to adequately consult over the future of East Coast.

The unions have significant concerns that despite the Brown review of rail franchising recommending that the procurement for rail franchise should take place over a minimum of 24 months, the Government is rushing through the privatisation of East Coast

They argue that, in its haste to push services back into the private sector, the Government has cut corners, including breaching its own commitment to proper consultation of stakeholders, including passenger groups and the rail unions.

ASLEF, RMT and TSSA are conscious of the disastrous end to the InterCity East Coast franchises run by GNER and National Express as well as the Department for Transport mistakes in the InterCity West Coast franchising competition.

The Unions are concerned that there is again the risk that overbidding by private operators and inadequate and rushed evaluation of the bids will, as on previous occasions, lead to cuts to staff and services and even the franchise collapsing again.

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.


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.

East Coast
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

Train disruption continues as UK battered by storms

Train services across the UK are being disrupted due to the on-going storms and flooding, with train companies issuing advice via Twitter:


Disruption in the north western England - Alternative travel options can be found here: #UKStorm


Buses replace trains between Aberystwyth and Machynlleth because of overhead wire problems between Aberystwyth and Dovey Junction #UKStorm


Good Morning, the line between Liverpool-Crewe is blocked until 10am, passengers travelling to London need to travel via Warrington...

Read more: Thunderbirds are go: Locomotive rescues gale hit train



Passengers stuck for 5 hours after gales damage train

Passengers on an East Coast train near Durham say have been stuck on board without heating or lighting for more than five hours after the train's pantograph was blown off by high winds:


Stranded on the #eastcoast train just short of durham - no heating or lighting!


They're rationing biscuits and water - but free wifi. Good to know that #eastcoast have their priorities in order!


Despite having been stuck on this train for 5 hours now, we're still in good spirits :) #eastcoast


Thousands of passengers stranded on trains

Thousands of rail passengers were left stranded on trains after wind and rain wrought havoc with services.


Stuck! Stuck on a wobbling train in the middle of a storm! Freezing! starving! wet foot! Send help!


Been stuck on an @virgintrains service to London N of Lichfield. All train staff have been brilliant even when the train had no power!!!


On a train near Doncaster heading for London , tree has come down right in front of it , nobody hurt , stuck for a bit, got some chocolate

The evening rush-hour suffered disruption almost throughout the country, with a section of the West Coast main line in Lancashire closing between 7pm and 9pm.

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