Some fares to be cut by 10%
Stagecoach and Virgin win East Coast rail route
The new holders will invest £140 million in trains and stations and in four years time they will be operating a new fleet of 65 high speed trains that will increase seating by 50 per cent. These will replace 39 existing trains.
Inter City Railways, as the new service will be known, has given a commitment to reduce all long-distance standard anytime fares by 10%. This could save passengers travelling from Edinburgh to London around £15 on those journeys.
The operator will also develop its own website, smartphone and tablet apps that will make door-to-door travel easier for customers, including planning journeys and buying tickets.
Inter City Railways will have 23 additional services and 3,100 extra seats for the morning peak time by the time the service and new trains are fully operational in 2020 when the journey time will be cut by 13 minutes to four hours. There will be 75 more station calls.
It had been expected that French company Keolis and the Channel Tunnel operator Eurostar would secure the franchise, but Stagecoach – which is understood to have a 90-10 control of its partnership with Virgin – has finally won after bidding repeatedly for one of the network’s key routes.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “This is a fantastic deal for passengers and for staff on this vital route. It gives passengers more seats, more services and new trains.
“We are putting passengers at the heart of the service. I believe Stagecoach and Virgin will not only deliver for customers but also for the British taxpayer.
“This government knows the importance of our railways. That is why they are a vital part of our long term economic plan, with over £38 billion being spent on the network over the next five years.
Labour wants public sector operators to be allowed to bid.
Martin Griffiths, chief executive of Stagecoach, said: “A passion for customers, employees and the community is at the heart of our plans for the franchise. We want to build on the quality and pride of the people who will be joining our team.
“We have some fantastic ideas to deliver a more personal travel experience for customers. Investing in the committed people who will make that happen is a big part of our plans, giving opportunities for them to develop and grow into more senior roles. At the same time, we have developed major programmes to help young people, communities and small businesses along what is one of Britain’s major rail routes.”
Over the next 8 years Inter City Railways will pay the government around £3.3 billion to operate the franchise.
Inter City Railways said it will bring extra benefits for passengers, including:
- complete refurbishment of the existing train fleet
- better wi-fi connections and onboard catering on the new Intercity Express train fleet
- improved ticket offices and 170 new ticket vending machines
- over 500 new car parking spaces
- 411 additional cycle spaces and new secure cycle facilities
- a customer and community improvement fund
- a training fund for new apprenticeships, internships and staff development.