Page last updated at 08:59 GMT, Thursday, 5 November 2009

East Coast rail change confirmed

East Coast livery
East Coast will be government-owned

The East Coast Main Line will be transfer to a government-controlled company at one minute before midnight on 13 November, it has been confirmed.

National Express has given up the loss-making franchise for train services between London and Edinburgh.

The new public company East Coast, set up by the Department for Transport, will be headed by transport expert Elaine Holt.

Ms Holt has worked for the First Group and British Airways.

Transport minister Lord Adonis said: "I can assure the travelling public that services will continue without disruption and all tickets will be honoured."

Lord Adonis who issued a formal termination notice to the company on Wednesday night said the franchise would be transferred to a new operator, Directly Operated Railways, trading as East Coast.

'Orderly handover'

Staff currently employed by National Express East Coast will transfer to the new operator, with services likely to remain in public hands until 2011.

National Express was committed to pay £1.3bn under the original franchise, but passenger revenues were hit by the recession.

Talks with the DfT about easing the terms of the deal foundered earlier this year.

National Express also runs the East Anglian and c2c commuter franchises.

These will not fall under public control despite initial threats to strip the company of its other rail deals under cross-default provisions.

"During the last five months, the group has worked with the Department for Transport and the proposed operator Directly Operated Railways to ensure an orderly handover," the firm said.

Ms Holt, as chief executive of Directly Operated Railways, will head a team of industry experts with expertise in engineering, administration and human resources.

East Coast Main Line services pass through Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Durham, Northumberland, Berwickshire and East Lothian.

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