East Coast (Train Operating Company) - A
East Coast (Train Operating Company) - A
East Coast, the trading name of the East Coast Main Line Company, was a British train operating company running the InterCity East Coast franchise on the East Coast Main Line between London, Yorkshire, North East England, and Scotland. East Coast ran long-distance inter-city services from its Central London terminus at London King's Cross on two primary routes, the first to Leeds and the second to Edinburgh via Newcastle with other services reaching into Yorkshire and Northern and Central Scotland. It commenced operations on 14 November 2009 and ceased on 28 February 2015.
East Coast was a subsidiary of Directly Operated Railways, formed by the Department for Transport as an operator of last resort when National Express refused to provide further financial support to its National Express East Coast (NXEC) subsidiary and consequently lost its franchise. The franchise was re-nationalised on 14 November 2009, with the day-to-day operations continuing normally on the whole.
Within one year, East Coast's rolling stock begun to be re-liveried in a new silver scheme intentionally styled so that future operators of the franchise could easily apply their own branding following their takeover of operations. During May 2011, East Coast launched the "Eureka" programme, which involved numerous service changes, including an overhauled timetable and complimentary catering for First Class passengers. On the whole, service levels remained relatively steady and unchanged throughout East Coast's tenure.
From the onset of East Coast's operations, the Department for Transport had publicly stated its long term intention for the franchise was for it to be retendered and thus return to a private franchisee, this was originally set to occur by December 2013. However, during March 2013, the Secretary of State for Transport announced that this transfer had been postponed to February 2015 instead. In January 2014, FirstGroup, Keolis/Eurostar and Stagecoach/Virgin were announced as the shortlisted bidders for the new franchise. The franchise passed to Virgin Trains East Coast on 1 March 2015.
East Coast History
East Coast Background
The original InterCity East Coast franchise was awarded to the Bermuda-based transport and container leasing company Sea Containers, which operated it from April 1996 until April 2005 via its subsidiary Great North Eastern Railway (GNER). While Sea Containers successfully bid for the award of a new seven-year franchise by the Department for Transport (DfT) commencing in May 2005, the award was subject to criticism that, amid aggressive bidding between the different companies competing for the franchise, GNER had committed itself to fulfilling an overly generous arrangement that may not be financially realistic, and was accused as having overbid to secure the franchise.
During the original franchise, the company had been receiving subsidies from the British government to support its operations, however, the terms of the second franchise reversed this to have the operator making payments to the government, specifically a £1.3-billion premium which was due to the DfT over a ten-year period. Within two years, the company's financial difficulties had become a public concern.
In October 2006, Sea Containers filed for bankruptcy protection under the US Chapter 11 process, During December 2006, the DfT announced its intention to strip Sea Containers of its franchise, although GNER continued to operate it via an interim fixed fee management contract while another competitive tender was organised. In February 2007, the DfT announced that Arriva, First, National Express and Virgin Rail Group had been shortlisted to lodge bids for the new franchise. In August 2007, the DfT awarded the Intercity East Coast franchise to National Express, leading to the creation of National Express East Coast (NXEC) shortly thereafter.
Under the terms of its franchise agreement, National Express committed to paying a £1.4-billion premium to the DfT over a time span of seven years and four months. However, numerous rail analysts at the time promptly voiced concerns that the company had paid too much for the franchise, and had effectively repeated GNER's mistake in order to secure the franchise.
According to railway industry periodical Rail, NXEC quickly garnered a reputation for cost-cutting and a decline in service levels, particularly in terms of the onboard catering. By 2009, NXEC was under increasing financial pressure due to various factors, including compounding rises in fuel prices and the poor economic climate of the time, commonly known as the Great Recession. During April 2009, National Express confirmed that it was pursuing talks with the government over possible financial assistance with the franchise, either through a reduction in the premium due or some other form of assistance.
East Coast (Train Operating Company) Overview
East Coast Franchise(s): InterCity East Coast
14 November 2009 – 28 February 2015
East Coast Main Region(s): Greater London
East of England
Yorkshire and the Humber
North East England
East Coast Fleet Size: 31 Class 91 electric locomotives
30 InterCity 225 sets
14 InterCity 125 (HST) sets
East Coast Stations Called At: 53
East Coast Stations Operated: 12
East Coast Parent Company: Directly Operated Railways
East Coast Reporting Mark: GR
East Coast Predecessor: National Express East Coast
East Coast Successor: Virgin Trains East Coast
East Coast Route Map
Dunkeld & Birnam
Bradford Forster Square
Newark North Gate
London King's Cross