London North Eastern Railway (LNER) - A
London North Eastern Railway (LNER) - A
London North Eastern Railway (LNER) is a British train operating company. It is owned by DfT OLR Holdings for the Department for Transport (DfT). The company's name echoes that of the London and North Eastern Railway, one of the Big Four companies which operated between 1923 and 1948.
During June 2018, LNER took over the InterCity East Coast franchise, after the previous privately owned operator Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) returned it to the government following sustained financial difficulties. The DfT intended for the company to operate the franchise until a new public–private partnership could be established during 2020.
However, in July 2019, it was announced that LNER had been given a direct-award to run these services beyond 28 June 2020, up until 25 June 2023, making it the longest franchise on the East Coast Main Line since Great North Eastern Railway (GNER). Early on, the integration of Great Northern services into LNER's operation after the expiration of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise in 2021 was being actively considered as well.
LNER provides long-distance inter-city services on the East Coast Main Line, the principal destinations served are Leeds, York, Newcastle upon Tyne and Edinburgh. It directly manages 11 stations, while its trains call at 55 stations in total. LNER's initial rolling stock consisted of a fleet of InterCity 125 and InterCity 225 high speed trains that it had inherited from VTEC.
During May 2019, the first batch of Class 800 bi-mode high speed multiple units, based on the Hitachi A-train platform, entered service, followed by the very similar Class 801 electric multiple units during September of that year. Branded by LNER as the Azuma, their introduction has permitted the InterCity 125 sets to be withdrawn from service entirely, along with most of the InterCity 225s. A limited number of InterCity 225 sets have been retained and continue to be regularly operated by LNER.
London North Eastern Railway History
London North Eastern Railway Background
During November 2017, the then Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, announced the early termination of the InterCity East Coast franchise in 2020, three years ahead of schedule, this action had followed persistent losses incurred by Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC), the operator of the route. VTEC had been contracted to pay more than £2 billion in franchise premiums to the British government across the final four years of its contract.
In February 2018, the end date of the VTEC franchise was brought forward to mid-2018, the Department for Transport (DfT) had decided to either negotiate with VTEC for it to continue running the franchise on a temporary non-profit basis while a new franchise competition was conducted, or to arrange for VTEC be taken over by the DfT's operator of last resort.
On 16 May 2018, it was announced that the latter option was now being pursued and as such, LNER would take over operations from VTEC on 24 June 2018. The DfT also announced that LNER would be the long-term brand applied to the InterCity East Coast franchise.
During a speech in May 2018, the Secretary of State for Transport stated that Great Northern services could potentially be integrated into the operation when the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise expires in 2021 as part of the overall strategy for the East Coast franchise.
The setting up of LNER is the second occasion that a government-appointed operator of last resort has taken control of the InterCity East Coast franchise, between 2009 and 2015, the franchise had been operated by East Coast. It had taken over operations from National Express East Coast after that operator had defaulted on franchise payments to the government, and thus had its franchise taken away. East Coast had been the prior operator to VTEC being selected to take over the franchise.
London North Eastern Railway Changes
A major aspect of LNER's vision for the franchise has been the rollout of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). David Horne, LNER's managing director, stated that digital signalling is necessary to unlock the full capabilities of its rolling stock, enabling drivers to continuously receive information in real time, yielding improvements in responsiveness, safety, and reliability over the traditional lineside signalling.
The company has worked with Network Rail, the British government, and the trade unions on this endeavour, and has been heavily involved in the planning and preparatory works, it has also undertaken the training of its staff in readiness for its use.
By mid-2020, LNER had considerably curtailed its services in response to the significant decline of passenger travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. From 15 June 2020, both passengers and staff on public transport in England, including LNER services, were required to wear face coverings while travelling, and that anyone failing to do so would be liable to be refused travel or fined.
LNER is one of several train operators impacted by the 2022–2023 United Kingdom railway strikes, which are the first national rail strikes in the UK for three decades. Its workers are amongst those who have voted in favour of taking industrial action due to a dispute over pay and working conditions.
LNER appealed to the public not to use its services on the days of the strikes, as it was only capable of operating a very minimalist timetable on any of these dates due to the number of its staff that participated.
London North Eastern Railway Overview
London North Eastern Railway Franchise(s): InterCity East Coast
24 June 2018 – present
London North Eastern Railway Main Region(s):
East of England
North East England
Yorkshire and the Humber
London North Eastern Railway Fleet Size:
12 Class 91 locomotives for 8 InterCity 225 sets
23 Class 800 Azuma sets
42 Class 801 Azuma sets
London North Eastern Railway Stations Called At: 55
London North Eastern Railway Stations Operated: 11
London North Eastern Railway Parent Company: DfT OLR Holdings for Department for Transport
London North Eastern Railway Reporting Mark: GR
London North Eastern Railway Predecessor: Virgin Trains East Coast
London North Eastern Railway Map
Dunkeld & Birnam
Sunderland Tyne and Wear
Newcastle Tyne and Wear
Bradford Forster Square
London King's Cross