National Express East Coast
|Franchise(s):||InterCity East Coast
9 December 2007 – 13 November 2009 (originally 31 March 2015)
|Main region(s):||East Midlands, Yorkshire,
North East England, Central Scotland, Northern Scotland
|Fleet size:||Class 180 (never used)|
|Stations called at:||53|
|National Rail abbreviation:||GR|
|Parent company:||National Express|
National Express East Coast (NXEC) was a train operating company in the United Kingdom owned by National Express that operated the InterCity East Coast franchise from December 2007 until November 2009, when it was refused financial support for its franchise. It operated InterCity train services on the East Coast Main Line.
- 1 History
- 2 Services
- 3 Rolling stock
- 4 Demise
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The original InterCity East Coast franchise was awarded to Sea Containers who operated it from April 1996 until April 2005 trading as GNER. Sea Containers was awarded a new seven-year franchise by the Department for Transport from May 2005 with a three-year extension dependent on performance targets being met. GNER committed to pay a £1.3-billion-premium to the Department for Transport over ten years.
However due to the financial problems caused by it having overbid as well as financial difficulties encountered by the parent company, in December 2006 the government announced it was stripping the franchise from Sea Containers and would put it up for re-tender, with GNER running the franchise on fixed fee management contract in the interim.
In August 2007 the Department for Transport awarded the InterCity East Coast franchise to National Express. National Express committed to pay a £1.4-billion-premium to the Department of Transport over seven years and four months. At the time rail analysts had speculated that the Group had paid too much for the franchise. National Express East Coast commenced operations on 9 December 2007.
In off-peak times, there were three or four trains per hour to and from King's Cross. The following details apply to weekday operations.
The service between King's Cross and Leeds was generally half-hourly, with all trains serving Wakefield Westgate, most trains serving Peterborough and Doncaster and some serving Stevenage, Grantham, Newark and Retford.
A half-hourly service between King's Cross and Newcastle operated for most of the day, departing from London on the hour and on the half-hour. The 'top of the hour' departures continued through to Edinburgh Waverley (with the 10:00 departure keeping the traditional name Flying Scotsman), with a two-hourly extension to Glasgow Central. These trains generally ran as limited-stop expresses between London and Newcastle, all trains called at York, and most at Peterborough and Darlington, though afternoon and evening departures from King's Cross ran non-stop to Doncaster or York. The trains leaving King's Cross on the half-hour generally terminated at Newcastle and served Stevenage, Grantham, Newark, Retford, Doncaster and Durham as well as Peterborough, York, and Darlington.
There were four trains per day serving Aberdeen departing Leeds at 07:10 and King's Cross at 10:30 (The Northern Lights), 14:00 and 16:00 and Aberdeen at 07:52, 09:52 (The Northern Lights) and 14:50 for King's Cross and 18:16 for Edinburgh with a journey time from King's Cross of just over seven hours. These services were operated by HSTs, as the Edinburgh – Aberdeen line was not electrified.
The Highland Chieftain ran between Inverness and King's Cross with a journey time of just over 8 hours, departing Inverness at 07:55 and King's Cross at 12:00. This service was operated by a HST, as the Edinburgh – Dunblane and Dunblane – Inverness lines were not electrified.
The Hull Executive ran between Hull and King's Cross, departing Hull at 07:00 and King's Cross at 17:20. This service was operated by a HST as the Temple Hirst Junction – Hull line was not electrified.
There was a 06:55 departure from Skipton and Keighley to King's Cross with an 18:03 return. This was an extension of a Leeds – King's Cross service. Though the line was electrified, the service was operated using a HST because the electrical infrastructure on the line was insufficient to support a Class 91 locomotive and the Class 333 EMUs that operate the local services. The Saturday running of the southbound service was the only NXEC southbound service from Leeds not to call at Wakefield Westgate. This service departed from Leeds and headed along the York & Selby Linesline to join the East Coast Main Line at Hambleton. This was to retain driver route knowledge for diversionary services.
London-Bradford Forster Square
There was a 06:30 service from Bradford Forster Square to King's Cross with a 17:33 return. This was an extension of a Leeds – King's Cross service and was operated by an InterCity 225 set.
There was a Monday-Saturday 07:28 departure from Harrogate to King's Cross. However, there was no return journey. This was operated by an InterCity 125.
NXEC operated the following named passenger trains:
- The Hull Executive London – Hull / Hull – London
- The Northern Lights London – Aberdeen / Aberdeen – London
- The Highland Chieftain London – Inverness / Inverness – London
- The Flying Scotsman London – Edinburgh Waverley / Glasgow Central – London
A franchise commitment was to introduce a fifth service out of King's Cross each hour, operating to Lincoln and York on alternate hours from December 2010. It was proposed to lease four Class 90s and Mark 3 sets for use on the Leeds and York services with HSTs being used on the Lincoln services. This was later shelved and five Class 180s were leased instead. It was anticipated that one early morning train would start from Cleethorpes, serving Grimsby Town and Market Rasen, with one evening service to Lincoln extended to Cleethorpes.
NXEC inherited a fleet of High Speed Trains and InterCity 225 sets made up of Class 91s hauling Mark 4 Carriages and Class 82 Driving Van Trailers from GNER. The High Speed Trains were part way through an overhaul program with the Class 43 power cars being repowered with MTU 16V4000R41 engines at Brush Traction and the Mark 3 Carriages refurbished to Mallard standards at Wabtec, Doncaster. This was completed in 2009.
|Trainset||Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Number||Routes operated|
|InterCity 125||Class 43||Diesel locomotive||125||200||30||London King's Cross-Aberdeen
London King's Cross-Inverness
London King's Cross-Hull
London King's Cross-Skipton
London King's Cross-Harrogate
|Mark 3 carriage||Passenger carriage||125||200||117|
|InterCity 225||Class 91||Electric locomotive||140||225||31||London King's Cross-Leeds
London King's Cross-Edinburgh
London King's Cross-Glasgow Central
London King's Cross-Bradford Forster Square
London King's Cross-Newcastle
|Mark 4 carriage||Passenger carriage||140||225||302|
|Driving Van Trailer||140||225||31|
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Number||Routes operated|
|Class 180 DMU||DMU HST||125||200||5||London Kings Cross-Edinburgh|
By 2009 NXEC was under increasing financial pressure due to rising fuel prices and the economic downturn. Instead of projected increases in revenue from the franchise, in the first half of 2009 NXEC ticket sales income decreased by 1%.
In April 2009 National Express confirmed that it was still pursuing talks with the government over possible financial assistance with the franchise, either through a reduction in the premium due, or other assistance.
In July 2009 it was announced that National Express planned to default on the franchise, having failed to renegotiate the contractual terms of operation, with National Express stating that it would not provide any further financial support necessary to ensure NXEC remained solvent. This meant NXEC would run out of cash by the end of 2009. As a result, the Department for Transport announced it would establish a publicly owned company to take over the franchise.
In prior negotiations, the Group had reportedly offered to pay over £100 million to be released from its commitment to operate the franchise. Transport Secretary Lord Adonis had rejected this on a matter of principle. He stated: "The government is not prepared to renegotiate rail franchises, because I'm simply not prepared to bail out companies that are unable to meet their commitments". In defaulting on the franchise, under the franchising system, National Express only directly incurred losses of £72 million by forfeiting bonds.
The franchise failure sparked public and industry calls for the permanent public ownership of the InterCity East Coast franchise, or even the complete scrapping of the entire franchise system. In response, Lord Adonis reiterated the findings of a 2008 National Audit Office report, which had concluded that the rail franchising system delivered good value for money and steadily improving services.
- "East Coast rail change confirmed". BBC News Online. 5 November 2009. Retrieved 5 November 2009.
- "NXEC Trains Limited 05876737" (Companies House extract). Register of Companies (Companies House). http://data.companieshouse.gov.uk/doc/company/05876737. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
- Legal name NXEC Trains Limited.
- Strategic Rail Authority (22 March 2005). "Biggest Deal in European Rail History Marks East Coast Franchise Announcement". Financial Express (Press release). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "GNER wins second franchise term". Railway Gazette. 1 May 2005. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "GNER pays £1.3bn for East Coast franchise". Daily Telegraph (London). 22 March 2005. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- Osborne, Alistair (23 March 2005). "GNER's blockbuster bid clinches East Coast Line". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "GNER owner makes Chapter 11 move". BBC News Online. 16 October 2006. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "GNER to surrender top train route". BBC News Online. 15 December 2006. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "Four in East Coast rail shortlist". BBC News Online. 20 February 2007. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "National Express wins rail route". BBC News Online. 14 August 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2009.
- "National Express awarded contract for growth on InterCity East Coast" (Stock Market statement). Department for Transport. 14 March 2007. Archived from the original on 19 December 2007. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- Hawkins, Nigel (4 September 2009). "On the buses". Adam Smith Institute. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- Rail Magazine Issue 573 29 August 2007 Page 8
- "London route 'will boost county'". BBC News. 15 August 2007. Retrieved 16 August 2007.
- "NationalExpress > WiFi". National Express. Retrieved 9 December 2007.
- Rail Magazine (606), 3 December 2008: 69
- "Q&A: National Express and East Coast line". BBC. 1 July 2009. Retrieved 1 July 2009.
- Milmo, Dan (18 January 2009). "Rail firm plans £1 seat charge as crunch hits franchises". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 17 July 2009.
- National Rail (16 June 2009). "Company Information: National Express East Coast". Retrieved 1 July 2009.
- National Express Group (12 May 2009). "Seat reservations on East Coast and East Anglia train services". Retrieved 3 July 2009.
- "East Coast rail to be state-run". BBC News. 1 July 2009. Retrieved 1 July 2009.
- Milmo, Dan (3 May 2009). "National Express in talks over scrapping east coast franchise". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 3 May 2009.
- "East Coast rail change confirmed". BBC News. 5 November 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to National Express East Coast.|
- Preparations for re-nationalisation in November 2009
- London route to Lincoln proposed in April 2008
- Formation of the company in December 2007
- Winning the route in August 2007
InterCity East Coast franchise
|Operator of InterCity East Coast franchise
InterCity East Coast franchise