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EAST COAST MAIN LINE COMPANY PLEDGES TO IMPROVE SERVICES AND INVEST FOR THE FUTURE

13/11/2009

Categories:
Eastern Region
London
North East England
Scotland
Yorkshire
Corporate Issues

MORE THAN £12M FOR STATION IMPROVEMENTS
RESERVATION CHARGES ABOLISHED ● BETTER CATERING

Rail services formerly operated by National Express East Coast will from just before midnight transfer to East Coast Main Line Company Limited (East Coast), the new operator of the service.

The services run between London Kings Cross and destinations including York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness.

East Coast has pledged continuity of service but also improvements to the service over the next two years while it rests in public hands.

Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis said:

"East Coast will remain in public hands for two years and there will be full continuity of service. But this is not a care and maintenance job – I want to see real improvements in the service and better value for money.

"East Coast staff have real pride in their jobs; they want to offer a fantastic service, and the new company will give them the tools for the job.

"This is a profitable railway – it needs to be the pride of its passengers and staff too and that's my aim for East Coast.”

Improvements and changes include:

• An end to charges for seat reservations from January 1, 2010;
• £12 million for improvements at stations, including enhancements to Newcastle, York, and Peterborough. The focus of investment in stations is designed to add significant benefits for customers, these include the provision of 200 new cycle spaces at Newcastle, 100 at York and 150 at Peterborough;
• An immediate review of on-board catering in both standard and first-class, with a view to improvements from next year;
• Better standards of cleanliness on board trains and at East Coast managed stations;
• Further service improvements including a new Saturday evening service from King’s Cross to Leeds and an additional Sunday morning service from Leeds to King’s Cross;
• The withdrawal of the planned gating of York station in order to maintain the existing through access for non-passengers, while accelerating the completion of gating at King’s Cross to deter fare dodgers.

Elaine Holt, Chairman of East Coast, said:

“On day one it’s about business as usual for staff and customers. In the coming weeks and months, our first priority is to deliver ‘the basics’ to a consistently high standard.  That means systematically maintaining a good reliable and punctual train service; helpful and proactive staff; well maintained, clean and accessible stations and trains; and good quality information for every step of the journey.

“Over time we’ll introduce further improvements to the service, the stations and the trains – our aim is to make sure that East Coast is the preferred way to travel along the length of the route and the best performing long distance rail operator.”

The Company also announced today the appointment of Karen Boswell [note 4] as the new Managing Director of East Coast.
 
At the point of transfer, all other members of the former National Express East Coast management team will join East Coast Main Line Company, under TUPE arrangements.

Notes to Editors

  1. In a public statement on 1 July, 2009, National Express Group PLC announced that it would not be providing the further financial support necessary to ensure that National Express East Coast could continue to trade beyond the date at which the contractual financial support from National Express Group PLC was exhausted. Given these circumstances, the Secretary of State for Transport said later on 1 July that a new publicly owned company had been established which would take over the East Coast franchise from the point at which National Express East Coast ceases to operate.

  1. East Coast (East Coast Main Line Company Limited) is a subsidiary of Directly Operated Railways Limited (DOR), the Government-owned holding company established whilst the East Coast main line franchise is re-let again to the private sector.  This process is expected to take two years.

  1. On 5 November, the Department for Transport made the following public announcement concerning Termination of the National Express East Coast rail franchise:

    In July, National Express Group PLC announced that they would not provide the further financial support necessary to ensure that their subsidiary, National Express East Coast (NXEC), remained compliant with its financial obligations to the Department for Transport. Therefore, the DfT immediately established a publicly owned company in order to take control of the franchise from the point at which NXEC cease to operate following any Event of Default and subsequent Termination. Since July, this publicly owned company has been preparing to takeover the franchise. Yesterday after the markets closed we informed NXEC that we will be terminating its franchise at 23:59 on 13 November. Therefore, the new company, called 'East Coast Main Line Company Limited’, trading as 'East Coast' will take over running the franchise from that time. Services on the East Coast Main Line will continue without disruption and all tickets will be honoured. Staff currently employed by National Express East Coast will transfer to the East Coast Main Line Company. The public can be assured that the Government’s first and overriding obligation in this situation is to ensure continuity of service to passengers, with no disruption or diminution of service standards.”

  1. Karen Boswell (46) has worked in customer-centric businesses for more than 25 years.  Most recently, she worked at FirstGroup, as Customer Service Director and Deputy Managing Director at First Capital Connect – a rail franchise with more than 91 million passenger journeys each year.  Here, she had a team of 1,000 directly managed staff – and achieved a 10% improvement on service quality over three years and pushed overall satisfaction of FCC in the National Passenger Survey, up by 6%.  She was part of the original mobilisation team for the franchise.  In the late 90s, Karen worked for the support services company ARAMARK, and before that she spent time in several customer support roles with Granada and Allied Lyons.

  1. New investment: At Newcastle, a new station entrance will be created, with improved cycle storage and new passenger and retail facilities at the western end of the station. Working with Network Rail and the Local Authority, East Coast will create a Cycle Hub at York, with additional cycle storage and two new cycle access routes. At Peterborough, there will be a complete refurbishment and extension of the existing station building to install ticket gates and a new entrance, together with the provision of extended cycle and motorcycle parking.  

  1. DOR is supported by a team of very experienced rail industry professionals.  This team has been working on the mobilisation for the National Express East Coast transfer since the early summer – and together with National Express, they are preparing all the necessary activities to ensure that there is a seamless transition of ownership. Following transfer, DOR will act as a supportive parent organisation for East Coast.  Going forward, DOR will also be responsible for assisting the franchise re-letting process and for preparing East Coast for a smooth transition to future private sector ownership, once more.

  1. For further information about East Coast Main Line Company the media should call: Paul Emberley, 07802 776777; Giles Croot/ Charlotte Kenyon, 020 7404 5959

    1. In a public statement on 1 July, 2009, National Express Group PLC announced that it would not be providing the further financial support necessary to ensure that National Express East Coast could continue to trade beyond the date at which the contractual financial support from National Express Group PLC was exhausted. Given these circumstances, the Secretary of State for Transport said later on 1 July that a new publicly owned company had been established which would take over the East Coast franchise from the point at which National Express East Coast ceases to operate.
    1. East Coast (East Coast Main Line Company Limited) is a subsidiary of Directly Operated Railways Limited (DOR), the Government-owned holding company established whilst the East Coast main line franchise is re-let again to the private sector.  This process is expected to take two years.
    1. On 5 November, the Department for Transport made the following public announcement concerning Termination of the National Express East Coast rail franchise:

      In July, National Express Group PLC announced that they would not provide the further financial support necessary to ensure that their subsidiary, National Express East Coast (NXEC), remained compliant with its financial obligations to the Department for Transport. Therefore, the DfT immediately established a publicly owned company in order to take control of the franchise from the point at which NXEC cease to operate following any Event of Default and subsequent Termination. Since July, this publicly owned company has been preparing to takeover the franchise. Yesterday after the markets closed we informed NXEC that we will be terminating its franchise at 23:59 on 13 November. Therefore, the new company, called 'East Coast Main Line Company Limited’, trading as 'East Coast' will take over running the franchise from that time. Services on the East Coast Main Line will continue without disruption and all tickets will be honoured. Staff currently employed by National Express East Coast will transfer to the East Coast Main Line Company. The public can be assured that the Government’s first and overriding obligation in this situation is to ensure continuity of service to passengers, with no disruption or diminution of service standards.”
    1. Karen Boswell (46) has worked in customer-centric businesses for more than 25 years.  Most recently, she worked at FirstGroup, as Customer Service Director and Deputy Managing Director at First Capital Connect – a rail franchise with more than 91 million passenger journeys each year.  Here, she had a team of 1,000 directly managed staff – and achieved a 10% improvement on service quality over three years and pushed overall satisfaction of FCC in the National Passenger Survey, up by 6%.  She was part of the original mobilisation team for the franchise.  In the late 90s, Karen worked for the support services company ARAMARK, and before that she spent time in several customer support roles with Granada and Allied Lyons.
    1. New investment: At Newcastle, a new station entrance will be created, with improved cycle storage and new passenger and retail facilities at the western end of the station. Working with Network Rail and the Local Authority, East Coast will create a Cycle Hub at York, with additional cycle storage and two new cycle access routes. At Peterborough, there will be a complete refurbishment and extension of the existing station building to install ticket gates and a new entrance, together with the provision of extended cycle and motorcycle parking.  
    1. DOR is supported by a team of very experienced rail industry professionals.  This team has been working on the mobilisation for the National Express East Coast transfer since the early summer – and together with National Express, they are preparing all the necessary activities to ensure that there is a seamless transition of ownership. Following transfer, DOR will act as a supportive parent organisation for East Coast.  Going forward, DOR will also be responsible for assisting the franchise re-letting process and for preparing East Coast for a smooth transition to future private sector ownership, once more.

    1. For further information about East Coast Main Line Company the media should call: Paul Emberley, 07802 776777; Giles Croot/ Charlotte Kenyon, 020 7404 5959

Contact Information

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About East Coast

On Monday to Friday, East Coast operates 155 train services along the East Coast Main Line, linking London King's Cross, the East Midlands, Yorkshire, North East England and Scotland..

Out of normal office hours (17.30 to 09.00 hours) please call 08700 005151 and ask for the duty press officer to be paged.

Visit the East Coast Media Centre at http://www.mediacentre.eastcoast.co.uk for a full image library and press release archive.