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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.

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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
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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:

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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:

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Thousands of passengers stranded on trains

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

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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Travellers told to 'abandon travel' on Virgin Trains

Passengers hoping to board a Virgin Train today have been told to "abandon" their travel plans. In a series of tweets Virgin said customers already travelling would be left at the nearest station.

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