– Patrick McLoughlin, Transport Secretary
This programme is a major step in delivering tangible improvements to services, providing long-term certainty to the market and supporting our huge programme of rail investment.
Above all, in future franchise competitions we are placing passengers in the driving seat by ensuring that their views and satisfaction levels are taken into account when deciding which companies run our railway services.
Franchising has been a force for good in the story of Britain's railways, transforming an industry that was in decline into one that today carries record numbers of passengers.
Virgin Trains has confirmed it is planning to bid for the East Coast rail route. It is set to return to the private sector after the Government announced changes to the franchise bidding process following the West Coast mainline fiasco.