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LONDON, 3 MARCH 2015: The East Coast franchise was successfully re-let on Sunday 1 March to Inter City Railways Limited, a consortium of Stagecoach Group (90%), and Virgin Trains (10%).  The company is now trading under the name of Virgin Trains East Coast. 

In 2009, Directly Operated Railways (DOR) inherited a business that had been suffering.  It was always very clear about the objectives for East Coast: stabilise the company, and hand it on to a new private sector operator in good shape, within a short period of time.  However, whilst the franchise term was extended by the Government, this gave DOR and the management of East Coast the opportunity to do much more.  Significant investments were made in its people and assets; a strong East Coast brand was developed from scratch and a relentless focus was made on the customer throughout the East Coast business.  Above all, under DOR’s guidance, the East Coast team was able to rekindle a company spirit amongst its people – which has been the bed-rock of its success over the last few years. 

That has meant that the team at East Coast, led by Karen Boswell, has been able to create a business that is financially strong again.  It has made significant improvements in train performance and punctuality, and has been able to achieve one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings of any franchised long-distance operator in the country – and an employee engagement score that is virtually unparalleled in the rail industry.  That success has been acknowledged too by East Coast’s peers – and during the last five years, the Company was the recipient of no fewer than 65 industry awards.

DOR is pleased that the pride has been restored to the East Coast franchise, dubbed the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Britain’s railways, leaving a legacy of having created the best possible platform for this business to continue its success and development under new ownership. 

DOR wishes David Horne and his new team at Virgin Trains East Coast every success for the future.