East Coast railway line through Stevenage brought back under public control

Chris Grayling

Stagecoach and Virgin were supposed to run services on the line until 2013, but the government had previously agreed to let them walk away from the agreement three years early.

"So on the same day we will start with the launch of a new long-term brand for the East Coast Main Line through the recreation of one of Britain's iconic rail brands, the London and North Eastern Railway, the LNER".

He added there will be no sanctions against Virgin or Stagecoach for their failures.

Virgin Trains East Coast - a joint venture between Stagecoach and Virgin - was awarded the eight-year franchise to run trains in November 2014.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the House of Commons this afternoon that no decision had yet been taken on the future of the Great Northern franchise, but that Great Northern services coming out of London King's Cross might be merged into LNER.

In a statement, a Network Rail spokesperson said: "We will continue to work closely with the DfT and rail operators to make sure we continue to offer the best possible service to passengers and freight companies during the transition period and as we move into the new public-private partnership".

Explaining the contract's difficulties in February, Stagecoach said that some of its forecasts for growth on the line were based on enhancements expected to be carried out by state-backed rail infrastructure company Network Rail, but those actions had been either delayed or abandoned.

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He said: "Every announcement is a smokescreen to divert attention from the failings of the Transport Secretary's policy".

Grayling also said that the government was assessing options for transferring some Govia Thameslink Railway commuter services operating on the ECML to LNER when the TSGN franchise ends in 2021 and enhanced cross-London services have been implemented under the Thameslink Programme.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told parliament the East Coast Main Line franchise would be halted after it made considerable losses under a private company.

"Anything else risks playing out the same expensive farce over and over again".

In February Mr Grayling said the franchise would only be able to continue in its current form for a "very small number of months" as Stagecoach had "got its numbers wrong" and "overbid".

He told MPs the firms have paid a "high financial and reputational price" in relation to the East Coast route.

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