Scotland-London rail services to be brought under public control

Chris Grayling

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the East Coast franchise "is not a failing railway" and Stagecoach and Virgin got their sums wrong.

In November 2014, Virgin Trains East Coast - a joint venture between Stagecoach and Virgin - was awarded the franchise to run trains for eight years.

Stagecoach said it and Virgin had been negotiating for a new contract with the Department for Transport but that it understood Mr Grayling was "no longer considering" them for the deal.

VTEC is the third private operator to fail to complete the full length of a contract to run services on the East Coast route.

The new publicly controlled rail line will be renamed the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER).

Labour described the decision to end the £3.3 billion contract as a "bailout".

The East Coast rail service is to come under temporary state ownership, the government has decided.

Perth-based Stagecoach, which has a 90 per cent stake in the franchise, angered MPs by announcing the decision minutes before Mr Grayling made a statement to the House of Commons.

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Stagecoach's chief executive Martin Griffiths estimated the company's total losses at £260m, in February.

Former John Lewis boss and current mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, is being brought on board to advise with the East Coast Main Line services being taken back under government control.

He added: "However, we respect the Government's decision".

Stagecoach pledged to "work constructively with the officials and the OLR in the weeks ahead to ensure a "professional transfer to the new arrangements".

East of England MEP Alex Mayer said "Let's hope this time the East Coast mainline is back in public hands for good".

"Having more stability in the underlying contract between Government and the train company will help achieve these things that matter most to passengers".

The collapse of a franchise awarded only in 2014 marks the third time in a decade that private companies have bailed out of running the 400-mile-route, fueling an argument over the future of the railway nearly 25 years after the network was privatized.

"Because they can not do it".

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