The new consortium mad up of Stagecoach and Virgin will operate the East Coast Main Line from 1 March 2015. Photo:  sean_hickin via Flickr
The new consortium, formed by transport operators Stagecoach and Virgin, will operate the East Coast Main Line from 1 March 2015. (Photo: sean_hickin via Flickr)

The Department of Transport today announced that a consortium made up of Stagecoach and Virgin will take over the franchise on the East Coast Mainline.

The new company will be known as Inter City Railways and is 90% owned by Stagecoach and 10% by Virgin. According to the Department of Transport the franchise will lead to 23 new services from London, including an upgrade to six services a day to Lincoln by 2019.

Train company Keolis and Eurostar, controlled by the French state owned company SNCF, were rumoured as the most likely candidates to win the franchise.

The state owned company Directly Operated Railways (DOR) has been running the line from 2009 when National Express failed. While run by DOR the line yielded over £1bn in premiums and have paid £255 million to the government over five years.

The government and the rail companies promise the following list of improvements:

  • 23 new services from London to key destinations, with 75 more station calls a day
  • plans for new direct links to Huddersfield, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Dewsbury and Thornaby
  • proposals for more trains to London from Bradford, Edinburgh, Harrogate, Leeds, Lincoln, Newcastle, Shipley, Stirling, and York
  • 3,100 extra seats for the morning peak time by 2020
  • across the entire train fleet there will be 12,200 additional seats – a 50% increase
  • 65 state of the art Intercity Express trains brought into passenger service from 2018, totalling 500 new carriages
  • journey times from London to Leeds reduced by 14 minutes, and from London to Edinburgh by 13 minutes
  • a £140 million investment package to improve trains and stations

Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, said: “This is a fantastic deal for passengers and for staff on this vital route. It gives passengers more seats, more services and new trains.”

Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive of Stagecoach Group, said: “A passion for customers, employees and the community is at the heart of our plans for the franchise. We want to build on the quality and pride of the people who will be joining our team.”