InterCity East Franchise: Return to the Private Sector

InterCity East Franchise: Return to the Private Sector


Edward O'Loughlin, WSP UK


The new InterCity East Coast franchise starts on 1st March and marks the return of this operation to the private sector. This paper will provide insights into the bidding process and the decisions taken to rejuvenate this important main line.


This paper will outline the principal components of the successful bid by InterCity Railways for the InterCity East Coast franchise, and explain the complexities of the bid decision-making process. It will describe the substantial investment that is to be made in the railway, in terms of infrastructure and rolling stock, and outline how the plans of the winning bidder will maximise the value of this investment to the passenger and taxpayer. The paper is written by the head of the operations workstream of the winning bidder and will provide a perceptive insight on the issues that had to be addressed, including the potential for a significantly enhanced open-access operations competing with some of the main flows on the route.

The paper will address the improvements planned in services, performance, fares and ticketing, station facilities, community and business relationships and customer service.

Some of the highlights of the plans include the following:
• Brand new timetable from May 2019
• Faster journey times across the network, particularly from Leeds, Edinburgh and Newcastle to/from London
• New trains from 2018
• Full refresh of existing trains
• 10% reduction in the cost of Anytime fares
• New customer zones at stations
• Over 500 additional car parking spaces

The franchise starts on 1 March 2015, and the paper will explain how Virgin Trains East Coast – the brand which InterCity Railways has adopted for its East Coast franchise – will have delivered on its early obligations, and the challenges it will have to overcome to be successful.


Association for European Transport