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Eurostar and Keolis 'favoured to win East Coast franchise'

A joint bid from Eurostar and Keolis is understood to be the favoured choice of the Department for Transport to run the new East Coast Main Line.

The new franchise, whose operator is set to be announced this week, will see the line privatised as it has been operated by Directly Operated Railways (DOR), a subsidiary of the DfT, since 2009.

Eurostar and Keolis are competing against bids from FirstGroup and Virgin Trains to run services on the route, which connects London to Edinburgh via York and Newcastle. Several media outlets have cited unnamed sources close to the process who have suggested that the bids from First and Virgin will fall short.

Alistair Gordon, chief executive of Keolis UK, said last year that the tender represents an opportunity to “transform a hugely important national route, which has yet to see the same levels of investment as the West Coast Main Line”.

It is estimated that DOR has returned over £1bn to the taxpayer while in control of the line and last year alone it generated £235m for the Treasury. The move to privatise operations has been condemned by the RMT union.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “It is a national disgrace that the government is continuing with plans to bulldoze through the reprivatisation despite figures showing it is handing massive sums back to the British people.”

Channel Tunnel rail operator Eurostar International Ltd and sister company Keolis are both majority-controlled by French state rail company SNCF.

Shares of Abredeen-based First Group slumped with news of yet another potential rail disappointment. In recent months it has lost its ScotRail and First Capital Connect / Thameslink franchises, and it also lost out to incumbent c2c on the Essex Thameside bid.

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


Mikeyb   25/11/2014 at 15:03

So, it looks as if another TOC may fall into foreign hands, particularly if the Government sells the taxpayer's share in Eurostar to one of the European state-owned railways. Cameron & co. do not seem to mind if state-owned enterprises run any of our transport systems or utilities - as long as they are not British! The likes of First Group and National Express have only had limited success in Europe, as they come up against the might of DB and other state monopolies but the UK Government seems to have little interest in fighting their corner within the EU.

Neil Palmer   27/11/2014 at 00:34

Well, what if First Group (or Stagecoach/Virgin) were to buy the 40% of Eurostar the government owns? I'm sure the rush to sell that has nothing to do with the possibility of Eurostar leading the race to buy East Coast. Wouldn't do to sell it off to the "private sector" when the government owned 40% of the winning bidder would it now. ;-) Also: Shares of Abredeen-based First Group slumped ABERDEEN surely ? Also, WHY does the typing of the image code NEVER match the first time you type it (correctly) ?

Neil Palmer   27/11/2014 at 15:33

Well, so much for this. Stagecoach/Virgin are the winners.

RTM   27/11/2014 at 17:09

Hi Neil, indeed, proven wrong on this one! Our full story from this morning on Stagecoach/Virgin is our top story today. We'll ask IT team to check into commenting issue, thanks for the heads-up.

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