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Company 'got sums wrong'

Stagecoach east coast franchise to end early

Virgin Azuma

New Virgin Azuma trains, shown here undergoing tests, are on order

Stagecoach’s contract to run east coast trains is to end early after the government said the operator had “got its numbers wrong”.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said the Perth-based business “overbid and it is now paying the price.”

The contract was due to end in 2023 and was cut short on a previous occasion. A publicly-owned operator ran the railway from 2009 to 2015 after National Express gave up the franchise after running out of money.

Mr Grayling said Stagecoach would forfeit the bond set aside to cover losses, adding that there was “no question of a bailout” for the company, which runs the franchise with Virgin.

Rail passengers are unlikely to notice any change and Mr Grayling promised improvements to the service when new rolling stock is introduced.

An option was for East Coast Mainline to be brought back under government control.

Mr Grayling also said there were no legal grounds to prevent Stagecoach from bidding for current or future franchises.

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