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New East Coast franchise HQ to remain in York

Virgin Trains East Coast will keep the headquarters of the operation in York when it takes over next year.

East Coast Main Line services have been based out of York since before the Second World War, and the new franchise says it will keep the headquarters on Skeldergate in the city centre.

Virgin Trains East Coast, a consortium of Stagecoach and Virgin, has also committed to open a new rail academy in the city from 2016.

Martin Griffiths, chief executive of Stagecoach Group, said: "York has a great rail heritage and forms a big part of our plans. As well as continuing to be home to the headquarters for the route, will be opening a new National Academy for Rail Professional Education in 2016, with one of the bases in York.

"While the franchise officially begins in March next year, our team are already planning ahead to build on the strong pride, heritage and success at East Coast. Over the coming months, we will be working closely with employees and the management team to ensure a smooth transition to the new franchise.”

York City Council welcomed the announcement. Cllr David Levene, cabinet member for transport, said "We fully support this continued investment in the city. It's important that we support and grow our existing talent pool of 5,000 people working in the rail related industry in York. 

"This is great news for everyone who wants better main line services and to emphasise that York is a natural home for the rail industry, with ready access to skilled people and other rail organisations.

"We've offered to meet the new operator to discuss how we can work together to improve both rail services and employment opportunities for our city. We hope to meet with them to discuss more on the HQ and academy proposals soon." 

The Department for Transport officially signed the £3.3bn franchise agreement with Virgin Trains East Coast yesterday. As previously reported by RTM the deal includes a wide range of improvements, including:

  • plans for new direct links to Huddersfield, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Dewsbury and Thornaby;
  • proposals for more trains to London from Bradford, Edinburgh, Harrogate, Leeds, Lincoln, Newcastle, Shipley, Stirling, and York;
  • 3,100 extra seats for the morning peak time into and out of King's Cross by 2020;
  • 12,200 additional seats - a 50% increase - across the entire train fleet;
  • 65 state-of-the-art Intercity Express trains brought into service from 2018, totalling 500 new carriages;
  • reduction of journey times from London to Leeds by 14 minutes, and from London to Edinburgh by 13 minutes; and
  • a £140m investment package to improve trains and stations.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “This is a fantastic deal which will give passengers on this vital route more seats, more services and new trains, and give British taxpayers outstanding value for money.

“With the signing of the contract, Stagecoach and Virgin are firmly on track to deliver these improvements. The new services have only been made possible by the government’s investment in the railways, a vital part of our long term economic plan.”

(Image: c. Mike Knell)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email


John   12/12/2014 at 13:26

I can't see Stagecoach delivering on their promises and I can't see the "shotgun" mariage with Virgin lasting! I rather think that it will be "more of the same" but with higher fares and a poorer service, which is the Bus Company track record.

John   06/02/2015 at 14:33

Ill informed comments such as the alleged "shotgun" marriage statement do not help. Stagecoach has held a 49% share in Virgin Trains since 1998 so one could hardly call this a "shotgun marriage". Virgin Trains service as shown by the National Rail Passenger Survey is consistently rated as Best in Class amongst High Speed Long Distance Services. Before going to print, get your facts right.

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