Chris Grayling defends handling of East Coast line

May 17, 2018, 01:11
Chris Grayling defends handling of East Coast line

The franchise, which operates trains between Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, Glasgow and King's Cross, was operated by the UK Government from 2009 to 2015 after the last collapse.

Mr Grayling had hinted that the franchise was not going properly, revealing in February that Stagecoach had incurred losses of virtually £200million.

Stagecoach and Virgin will lose up to £200 million on the line, Grayling said, but recommended that both continue as rail operators.

However, he also said: "The route has its challenges but it is not a failing railway". No disruption is expected to services in the transfer, and you will still receive a high-quality service from Staff.

LNER will take over the running of the line from June 24.

Grayling said that while there'll be no nationalization, East Coast will be recast as a partnership between public and private sectors.

Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf said he was disappointed that Mr Grayling had not spoken to him about the move in advance of the announcement.

It is the third time since 2007 that the 632-kilometer route has been returned to government hands, highlighting the difficulties for private companies of accurately bidding to run services on the privatized train network.

"I'll be speaking to UK Govt later today & demanding Scot Govt is involved new board SoS is setting up - we can not be ignored".

But while lessons will be learnt from yet another franchise failure, Grayling, citing the 2013 Brown Review, said that "in an effective railway industry, franchises can occasionally fail".

Stagecoach, which had a 90 percent stake in the East Coast franchise, has blamed its woes on a challenging economic environment and Network Rail, saying the infrastructure operator failed to deliver agreed track upgrades.

'I plan to use a period of Operator of Last Resort control to shape the new partnership.

WITH the Government set to restore the LNER name to Britain's railways, we thought we'd have a look back through the archives and came across these old railway posters.

Transport groups underlined a point made by the government - that with 92 per cent passenger satisfaction scores, East Coast services are some of the best-rated by users.

"Despite today's news, we believe that we can continue to make a positive contribution to the United Kingdom rail market, delivering long-term customer benefits and sustainable returns for taxpayers and investors", Stagecoach CEO Martin Griffiths said.

"Having more stability in the underlying contract between Government and the train company will help achieve these things that matter most to passengers".

The promised hourly direct trains between Lincoln and London from 2019 are in doubt as the franchise will be brought back under public control.

Mr Grayling told parliament that Stagecoach and Virgin have lost nearly £200m, but that this had not been a loss to taxpayers "at this time".

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