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National Express take over operation of major UK rail route from GNER

Sunday, December 9, 2007

National Express Group logo
National Express branding has been added over the old GNER livery before the new livery is applied
Image: Tom Page.

National Express East Coast has begun operating intercity rail services on the East Coast Main Line connecting London with the north-east of England and Scotland after it was awarded the franchise earlier this year. GNER, the previous operator, had their contract terminated early when parent company Sea Containers Ltd encountered financial difficulties.

GNER could not afford to pay the £1.3 billion premium it had promised the government, and whilst National Express have promised £1.4 billion, the larger contributions are scheduled for towards the end of the franchise when revenues should be better as increases in capacity and the estimated growth in rail travel take effect.

The new operator, part of the National Express Group, has committed to making an number of improvements to the service as part of the franchise contract. One of the first changes for passengers travelling today will be that the on-board wireless internet service is now free for all passengers.

Elsewhere on the UK railway network, today also saw TransPennine Express begin services from Manchester to Edinburgh and Glasgow after a change in the Cross Country franchise saw the services leaving Virgin Trains.

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