On June 23, Stagecoach/Virgin’s three-year tenure of the East Coast franchise will come to an end and the state will take over. Former transport minister Norman Baker predicts more trouble ahead

 

 

In less than a month’s time, the government will take direct control of the East Coast intercity franchise – renationalising the flagship London-Scotland route for the second time in a decade.

Stagecoach/Virgin, which has operated Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) since March 2015, was unable to agree new terms with transport secretary Chris Grayling after projected growth in passenger numbers fell short of expectations. Grayling announced last week that the current deal would end on June 23 and would be replaced by a new state-controlled entity, London and North Eastern Railway (LNER).

It’s the third time that ministers have taken direct control of a rail franchise, after Southeastern in 2003 and East Coast in 2009. But with passenger numbers now falling short of expectations in many areas, they could face more tough decisions about whether to agree new terms or step in.

I predict, with no joy, that the East Coast franchise is not the only one that is coming down the track towards the buffers.

In this issue of Passenger Transport, former transport minister Norman Baker writes: “I predict, with no joy, that the East Coast franchise is not the only one that is coming down the track towards the buffers.”

 

Further coverage appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe!