The Intercity East Coast Main Line franchise has been… well – an exercise in madness since it was privatised. This has been proved again – with the UK Government is planning to remove the Virgin-Stagecoach partnership from operating the service in the next few months.
Originally the East Coast franchise was due to conclude in 2023. This was scaled back to 2020… and in what Transport Minister Chris Grayling calls “a small number of months”.
It seems that Stagecoach got its numbers very wrong, with it failing to meet key financial obligations with the operation of the franchise.
Or in simpler terms – Stagecoach got its numbers wrong when bidding for the franchise.
Stagecoach owns 90% of the East Coast joint venture whilst Virgin owns the remaining 10%.
It’s the 3rd time in 11 years that East Coast franchise has headed towards a total breakdown, with Virgin-Stagecoach joining Sea Containers (who operated the franchise as GNER) and National Express (who operated it as National Express East Coast).
Two options now remain – to allow Virgin-Stagecoach to operate the franchise on a management basis and not for profit – or for the government to take control of the train company via its contracted parties (akin to what happened last time when.
The route operate from London Kings Cross, going northward, connecting Peterborough, Leeds, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow as well as other destinations in the area.
For passengers – This won’t impact the day-to-day travel. Trains will still continue to run (unless something epicly bad happens), and the most they’ll notice is the paint-work on the train changes from Virgin red to something else. So – it’ll be safe to book tickets for travel into the future for travel on the East Coast route.
However, for Virgin Group and Stagecoach – they don’t come out of this smelling of roses.
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