Thursday, August 16, 2007

National Express awarded contract to operate services on major UK rail route

NXEC Trains Ltd, a subsidiary of National Express Group, has been awarded the contract to run the InterCity East Coast franchise and operate intercity rail services on the East Coast Main Line, a high-speed route connecting London with the north-east of England and Scotland. The company, which is to brand the service as National Express East Coast, will take over the franchise from the current operator Great North Eastern Railway (GNER) from December 9, 2007.

GNER's contract was initially due to run until 2015 but was terminated early by the Department for Transport after its parent company, Sea Containers Ltd, found itself in financial difficulties which meant it was unable to pay the £1.3 billion it had promised in its bid to run the service.

A number of other bids were made for the franchise. These were from Arriva, FirstGroup, and a partnership of Stagecoach, Virgin, and GNER.

Richard Bowker, chief executive of National Express Group, said, "We are absolutely delighted that we have won the UK’s premier intercity railway. We have won with a bid which is ambitious, deliverable and structured to generate shareholder value."

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