East Coast Main Line takeover: Your questions answered

The BBC's Transport correspondent Victoria Fritz answers your questions about the future of the East Coast Main Line.

Image of a Virgin east coast train at London's Kings Cross train station

On 24 June, rail services on the East Coast Main Line will be brought back under government control.

The service, currently run by Stagecoach and Virgin Trains, will be handed over to the Department for Transport, who will run it until a public-private partnership can be appointed in 2020.

This is the third time a franchise on the East Coast Main Line has failed.

The BBC's Transport correspondent, Victoria Fritz, answers your questions about what went wrong and what the future holds for the franchise.

Why does the franchise keep failing? - Anonymous

There's no one single factor.

What does keep happening is that those who have won the franchise have consistently overestimated what they are capable of delivering.

When bids are put together, private companies estimate how much money they will make on ticket sales over the eight years of the franchise.

The temptation is to err on the side of optimism in order to win the bid.

Equally, the government has to assess the validity of competing bids to check that they are realistic.

In the case of East Coast, the three private companies that have tried to run it over the last 11 years, and the government of the day, got their numbers wrong.

Will Virgin staff lose their jobs? Where will the staff to run the new service come from? - Alan Hillary, County Durham

People who are directly employed by Virgin Trains East Coast will transfer over to London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), which is what the service will be renamed.

No disruption is expected to services as a result of this transfer.

Pay will remain the same for staff as contracts will transfer under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations.

Is it true that when the government ran the route previously, it made a profit? - Anonymous

It is true. Directly Operated Railways made about a billion pounds from 2009 to 2015 before the line was reprivatised.

However, it's worth stating that the same amount of money was made on the same line by the Virgin Trains East Coast franchise in only three years.

What happens to tickets booked and paid for relating to travel after the handover in June? - Kate

Tickets for future travel along the route will still be valid.

Train services will continue to run as normal and you do not need to change your journey plans.

Usually a business has to pay to get out of a contract. Why hasn't that happened here? - David, Buckinghamshire

In some ways it has.

Even though the franchise was unable to make the money it thought it would, it paid the shortfall from its own pocket to make sure it met its obligations to the government.

Stagecoach, the company that owned 90% of the Virgin Trains East Coast franchise, will have to pay an outstanding performance bond. That's thought to be around £19m.

There will also be a one-off expense of around £75m because the assets are not recoverable.

Why can't the East Coast Main Line be sold as an independent company? Why does it have to be run as a franchise?- Mike Steinbach, Israel

The franchise model is the system by which the government has decided to run the railway.

It believes that this way the risk falls on the franchise and not on taxpayers.

By awarding a franchise, the government is able to control the routes and ticket prices. It also gives them some oversight of how much money it will make and when.

An independent company would have no obligation to keep providing a public service if it became unprofitable. It could potentially stop services, cancel routes and rapidly raise ticket prices.

Who owns the trains that currently run on the line? - Shelia

Trains (carriages, locomotives and freight vehicles) in Britain are, in 99% of cases, actually not owned by franchises.

They are owned by a number of rolling stock companies and leased to businesses.

Azuma trains are expected to be rolled out on the line in December

What does this mean for the prospective upgrade of the rolling stock to Hitachi Azuma trains later this year? - Steve Dodding

Two brand new Hitachi trains arrived from Japan earlier in the year and are being used for training on-board crew and drivers.

This new fleet of 65 trains is still expected to be rolled out in December.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said in the Commons that the new trains will just have different branding.


Produced by George Pierpoint and Kris Bramwell




Date: 17 May 2018 | Source: BBC

More UK News

Prince Philip unhurt after car crash - palace

The Duke of Edinburgh has been involved in car crash but was not injured, Buckingham Palace says

Snow and ice cause Scotland travel disruption

Several roads are closed in the north east after ice and snow cause problems for drivers

Solo 45: Rape accused grime rapper 'not a monster'

Grime musician Andy Anokye "reasonably believed" the women had consented, his trial heard

Owner gets stuck up tree trying to rescue own cat

Harry's owner Maria Parry realised the tree was "really high" after she climbed it to free him

Nursing mother smashes 268-mile Montane Spine Race record

Jasmin Paris expressed milk for her 14-month-old daughter during the gruelling Montane Spine Race

Child killer David Gaut 'murdered' by Elliotstown neighbours

David Gaut was stabbed to death after serving a 32-year prison sentence for killing a 15-month-old
View More

More Telford News

 MP's warning over Broseley's Broxit move

Broseley Town Council has been told it cannot choose to complete a "Broxit..

 Future Fit: A&E recommendation rubber stamped

Health officials have confirmed their choice of Royal Shrewsbury Hospital ..

 Row over key document in Shropshire's Future Fit discussions

A row has broken out over a key document in Shropshire's Future Fit discus..

 Four admit role in violent family fracas in Telford

The trial of seven men accused of leaving two people with serious injuries..

 There is no place for Future Fit says leader of Telford & Wrekin Council

The Leader of Telford & Wrekin Council is calling on health bosses to ..

 Former coronary care nurse takes top business role at UK medical supply firm

A former coronary care nurse has taken a top role with one of the UK’s lead..
View More

Telford Businesses

Calendar Countdown

Upcoming Events in Telford

19 Jan 2019

Saturday 19 January 7.30pm


Tickets £25

View Details

25 Jan 2019

Friday 25 January 7.30pm


£22.50

View Details

31 Jan 2019

Thursday 31 January 7.30pm


Tickets £23

Concession £21.50

View Details

09 Feb 2019

Saturday 9 February 7.30pm


Adult: £26.50

Concessions: £23.50

View Details
View More