Latest Rail News

25.06.18

East Coast back in public hands under same leadership and staff

The East Coast franchise has been officially handed back to public control as the first branded London North Eastern Railway (LNER) train departed from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh today.

The inaugural journey marks the formal termination of the Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) operation – a move which was first hinted at last year – and represents the third failure of the East Coast franchise in just over 10 years.

It also symbolises the return of one of Britain’s most iconic rail brands, which was last seen in 1948.


David Horne, VTEC’s former managing director, was handed the same role at the refreshed LNER franchise. In an interview with the Press Association, he emphasised that he was not involved in the 2013-14 bidding process and argued that his appointment was “absolutely the right thing to do.”

“The fact I’m transferring and everybody in the company is transferring will give us stability so we can remain focused on ensuring that we continue to deliver a successful train service for our customers,” Horne said, adding that the TOC had a really short period of time to prepare for new operations— given that Chris Grayling only announced the transition date in mid-May.

The rest of the VTEC team has also transferred across to the new brand, from operational management to station staff and train guards, in order to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible.

Speaking today, the LNER managing director assured customers and employees that “it is business as usual.” There will be no changes to the services customers use on the East Coast Main Line (ECML), all existing tickets remain valid, new tickets can all be bought in the same way, and the same scheduled trains are in operation. LNER will also take over VTEC’s social media channels.

“As we go through the initial transition period we remain absolutely committed to running the high levels of service that customers have come to expect,” Horne continued. “It is the staff who underpin the customer experience on the East Coast, so we’re delighted they have transferred with us and that customers can rely on seeing the same faces at their local station and on their usual train.”

Rail minister Jo Johnson noted that the LNER launch is just the first step towards establishing the East Coast Partnership, which will bring “track and train closer together” in a similar model as to what is being done in renewed franchises countrywide.

As expected, LNER will progress with VTEC’s investment in the ECML, including by rolling out the brand-new Azuma trains alongside Hitachi and delivering timetable and station improvements.

Top image: c. Danny Lawson, PA Wire

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

Rail industry Focus

View all News

Comment

The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

Maximising efficiency requires investment in data, but it’s rewards for rail could be extensive

14/11/2019Maximising efficiency requires investment in data, but it’s rewards for rail could be extensive

Rail Technology Magazine’s Matt Roberts explains the significant role data can play within the future development of the rail industry. Standing as a cornerstone of the UK transport network, the rail industry is forever striving to in... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

Interviews

Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projects across the UK, Pearson Business School, part of... more >