National Express East Coast - National Express East Coast Operation - B

National Express East Coast - B

National Express East Coast Operations

On 9 December 2007, NXEC commenced operations. Prior to this, the company's management had decided that, rather than incorporate (wholly or in part) the existing GNER branding, a fresh brand would to be adopted, including a distinct new livery intended to embody modernity, this would be rolled out over a two-year period. According to Rail, the franchise, 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. In contrast to the company's projected revenue increases during its franchise, NXEC's actual operating income (generated primarily from ticket sales) had decreased by 1 percent during the first half of 2009.

Seeking to generate additional revenue to meet this shortfall, NXEC introduced a charge of £2.50 per journey leg for seat reservations. The introduction of these fees was largely met with dissatisfaction from the travelling public.

During April 2009, National Express confirmed that the company was still 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. This quickly led to speculation that the franchise was increasingly likely to be terminated entirely.

National Express East Coast Demise

In July 2009, it was announced that National Express had plans to default on the franchise, having failed to renegotiate the contractual terms of operation, National Express stating that it would not be providing any further financial support necessary to ensure NXEC remained solvent. This meant NXEC would run out of cash by the end of 2009. As a consequence of this decision, the Department for Transport announced it would establish a publicly owned company to take over the franchise from National Express.

During prior negotiations, the company had reportedly offered to pay over £100 million to be released from its commitment to operate the franchise. Transport Secretary Lord Adonis had rejected this proposal on a matter of principle, stating: "The government is not prepared to renegotiate rail franchises, because I'm simply not prepared to bail out companies that are unable to meet their commitments".

In defaulting on the franchise, under the franchising system, National Express only directly incurred losses of £72 million by forfeiting bonds. The franchise failure sparked public and industry calls for the permanent public ownership of the InterCity East Coast franchise, or even the complete scrapping of the entire franchise system. In response, Lord Adonis reiterated the findings of a 2008 National Audit Office report, which had concluded that the rail franchising system delivered good value for money and steadily improving services.

National Express East Coast continued to operate the franchise until 23:59 on 13 November 2009, when the Department for Transport took over through its East Coast subsidiary.

National Express East Coast Overview

National Express East Coast Franchise(s): InterCity East Coast
9 December 2007 – 13 November 2009

National Express East Coast Main Region(s):
East of England
East Midlands
North East England

National Express East Coast Fleet Size:
14 InterCity 125 HST sets
31 InterCity 225 sets
5 Class 180 Adelante units (never used)

National Express East Coast Stations Called At: 53
National Express East Coast Stations Operated: 12
National Express East Coast Parent Company: National Express
National Express East Coast Reporting Mark: GR
National Express East Coast Predecessor: GNER
National Express East Coast Successor: East Coast

National Express East Coast  Route Map

Glasgow Central
Edinburgh Waverley

London King's Cross


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