Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Competition Commences for Operator of Intercity East Coast Franchise

The Department for Transport today announced it is inviting Expressions of Interest to operate services on the InterCity East Coast Mainline. It is expected that the operator for the new franchise will be in place in 12 to 18 months.

Until that date, the Government has entered into agreement with the current operator GNER, to operate the franchise on the Department's behalf under a temporary 'Management Agreement'.

Under this agreement, GNER will continue to deliver train services and will help ensure a smooth transition to the holder of the new franchise. Most of the net worth of the company passes to the Government and GNER has agreed to cover the Department's costs of re-letting the franchise early.

Companies with an interest in running the franchise have been asked to submit expressions of interest to the Department by 15th January 2007.

Short listed bidders will later be asked to bid against a specification based on a consultation published today. It proposes that current services are maintained and that the Leeds half hourly service continue.

For passengers and staff, services will continue to operate as normal. All tickets will be valid and passengers can book and reserve tickets in exactly the same way they do today.

Secretary of State for Transport, Douglas Alexander said:

"The Government made it clear that rail operators that fall into financial difficulty should expect to surrender the franchise and not receive financial support. To do otherwise could set the precedent that we are willing to bail out operators at extra cost to the taxpayer.

"This agreement protects the interests of both passengers and taxpayers. It will ensure services operate as normal until a private sector franchise operator can be put in place."

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