Successful bidder to be announced in November
The invitation to tender for the East Coast rail operations franchise, which asks bidders to set out detailed proposals for services, has been published.
Features of the invitation to tender highlighted by the Department for Transport include:
- supporting the roll out of a new fleet of state-of-the-art intercity express trains,
- continuation of services to all current destinations,
- faster and more frequent services to and from King’s Cross by May 2020,
- faster average journey times to Leeds and Edinburgh from May 2020,
- the potential for improved services to destinations such as Lincoln,
- an opportunity for bidders to serve new routes including to Huddersfield, Scarborough, Harrogate (via York), Middlesbrough and Sunderland (via Newcastle),
- a fund that will drive innovation and deliver long-term benefits for the franchise and wider rail industry.
Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said: ‘Franchising has been a force for good for our railways, delivering record growth to an industry that was once in decline.
‘The time is now right for us to find a long-term partner for the East Coast franchise, who can use their private sector expertise and knowledge to build on the significant investment planned for the route.
‘I want to see innovative bids that provide value for money for taxpayers and deliver improved services for passengers and local businesses.’
The East Coast is the first InterCity franchise to be let since the launch of the Department for Transport’s new franchising schedule last March, and has been developed in close consultation with the rail industry and the independent Franchise Advisory Panel.
It is anticipated the successful bidder will be announced in November. The new franchise will start in March 2015 and run for 8 years with the possibility of a one year extension.
The shortlisted bidders are:
- Inter City Railways Limited (Stagecoach Transport Holdings Limited and Virgin Holdings Limited),
- Keolis/Eurostar East Coast Limited (Keolis (UK) Limited and Eurostar International Limited),
- East Coast Trains Ltd (First Group plc).