New east coast partnership will work together

Sir Alan Beith.
Sir Alan Beith.

Train services on the East Coast mainline were discussed in the House of Lords last week after Lord Beith raised the franchise problems besetting the service.

Lord Beith, the former Berwick MP, asked what arrangements the UK Government propose for the continuation of train services on the line, adding “the fact that we are on the third failed franchise is down to incompetent franchising, fanciful overbidding by operating companies and a failure of the publicly owned Network Rail to deliver the track and overhead improvement on which the bid was based”.

“What is the plan now?” he asked. “Are there only two options or more than that - a rerun franchise competition, a new type of franchise combining track and train operation, a nationalised operator or a sweetheart deal for Stagecoach/Virgin to run the trains without taking the risks? When will we know?”

Lord Palmer from Duns added: “Does the Minister agree that reaching yet another impasse is very worrying for all the staff who work on the east coast line? They have now had about half a dozen different employers and it is very demoralising for them.”

Baroness Sugg replied that the Government “expect to make an announcement on the two options in the coming months”.

“From 2020 there will be a new east coast partnership as part of our reform of track and train to ensure that they work together better to deliver the services that passengers need,” added Baroness Sugg.