05 August 2005

On 29 January the long awaited Intercity East Coast rail franchise was put out to potential bidders. The likely contenders to challenge the incumbent franchise are FirstGroup, National Express and Virgin Trains.


Back in 2000 Virgin reached the preferred bidder stage alongside the existing franchise holder and present incumbent GNER. The franchise proposals were associated with extensive upgrade of the East Coast Main Line but following receipt from Railtrack of a range of higher cost estimates for the ECML upgrades the SRA called a pause and eventually a stop to the process.


The franchise operates long distance high-speed services linking London King’s Cross with parts of East Anglia and the East Midlands, Yorkshire, Humberside, the North East of England and Scotland.


GNER who have invested £100m rebuilding trains to make them longer and more reliable have considered expanding the franchise to include Midland Mainline and suburban services out of Kings Cross


FirstGroup would attempt to convince the SRA of the benefits by connecting the franchise with its Hull Trains (subsidiary of FirstGroup since its takeover of GB Railways) and TransPennine services.

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