More trains on east coast route, government pledges

THE Government today promised passengers improved services on the main Yorkshire to London rail route.

The pledge came as the Government laid down requirements for those bidding to run the East Coast service from next year, as well as the Essex Thameside and Greater Anglia franchises.

The East Coast franchise was taken over by the Government from National Express last year.

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Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said a proposed new timetable planned for May 2011 will be introduced on the line, delivering more than 10% more trains into London in the morning peak.

With East Coast due to go back into the private sector around autumn 2011, Lord Adonis said he wanted to see, within two years, a new extra-speedy Flying Scotsman-style London-Edinburgh service taking less than four hours.

Those bidding for East Coast will have to promise better stations, improved catering and simpler ticketing as well as faster services.

Lord Adonis said: "I am particularly keen to cut journey times between major Scottish and northern cities and London. The standard journey time from Edinburgh to London will come down to four hours and 20 minutes, from Newcastle to London to two hours and 50 minutes and from Leeds to London to two hours and 10 minutes.

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He went on: "I want to improve further on this by reintroducing the Flying Scotsman, with a journey time of less than four hours for the key business services between Edinburgh and London and back. I want to see the Flying Scotsman introduced within two years, and Network Rail have undertaken to facilitate this.

"Under the proposals, Glasgow will also benefit from new direct services to Leeds and Sheffield - major destinations to which there are currently very few through trains at present.

"Most existing Glasgow services to London King's Cross will instead run to Leeds and Sheffield - giving new regular connections between Glasgow and these important cities without any loss of service between Glasgow and Newcastle and other cities in the north east of England."

Yesterday it was revealed that around one in three East Coasat trains failed to run on time during the bad weather before and after Christmas.

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The Greater Anglia franchise will start on April 1, 2011. The new operator will have to consider quicker journey times between London and Norwich and improved catering.

The Essex Thameside franchise is set to begin on May 29 next year and covers routes from London's Fenchurch Street to Tilbury, Southend and Shoeburyness in Essex.

The requirements for the new franchise include longer trains, improved station facilities and better security.