East Coast Trains Ltd (First Group plc), Keolis/Eurostar East Coast Ltd (Keolis (UK) Limited and Eurostar International Ltd) and Inter City Railways Ltd (Stagecoach Transport Holdings Ltd and Virgin Holdings Ltd) are on the shortlist to gain control of running the InterCity East Coast rail franchise from Lodnond to Edinburgh which includes Retford on its route.
The three companies successfully passed the Pre-Qualification Evaluation stage and can now start working on developing their plans for the franchise, before they receive the Government’s invitation to tender for the right to become the main operator in February 2015.
These potential operators will need to consider how they intend to use the latest high-tech trains, built in the UK by Agility, to deliver more passengers to more of the UK’s biggest cities faster and in greater comfort.
The Government is expecting to see how the future operators will capitalise on the significant government investment along this route, including £240 million in infrastructure projects over the next five years to improve capacity and reduce journey times.
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Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said: “Giving passengers more will be at the heart of the new East Coast franchise.”
“That means new services and journeys that are faster, more punctual and more comfortable.”
“When these companies are developing their proposals they should be looking at ways to innovate and grow the service.”
“We have embarked on one of the biggest programmes of rail investment ever, with more than £35 billion being spent to enhance and run our rail network over the next five years.”
“But for our railways to continue to grow we need strong private sector partners who can invest and innovate in ways that deliver a world class service.”