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East Coast (train operating company)

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East Coast (train operating company)

East Coast
Franchise(s): InterCity East Coast
14 November 2009 - 28 February 2015
Main region(s): Greater London
East of England
East Midlands
Yorkshire and the Humber
North East England
Fleet size:

31 Class 91 electric locomotives
32 InterCity 225 sets

14 InterCity 125 (HST) sets
Stations called at: 53
Stations operated: 12
National Rail abbreviation: GR
Parent company: Directly Operated Railways
Web site:
East Coast Route
Blair Atholl
Glasgow Central
Edinburgh Waverley
Newcastle Central
Bradford Forster Sq
Leeds City
Wakefield Westgate
Lincoln Central
Newark North Gate
London King's Cross

East Coast is the operating name of East Coast Main Line Company Limited,[1] a publicly owned British train operating company running high-speed passenger services on the East Coast Main Line between London, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland. East Coast operates long distance inter-city services from its Central London terminus at London King's Cross on two primary routes; the first to Leeds and the second to Edinburgh via Newcastle with other services reaching into Yorkshire and Northern and Central Scotland. It commenced operations on 14 November 2009.[2]

East Coast is a subsidiary of Directly Operated Railways, formed by the Department for Transport as an operator of last resort when National Express was refused further financial support to its National Express East Coast (NXEC) subsidiary and consequently lost its franchise.[3] The franchise was re-nationalised on 14 November 2009, with the intention being that operations would return to a private franchisee by December 2013.[4] In March 2013 the Secretary of State for Transport announced that this would occur in February 2015 instead.[5]

In January 2014 FirstGroup, Keolis/Eurostar and Virgin Rail Group were announced as the shortlisted bidders for the new franchise.[6][7][8] The franchise will pass to Virgin Trains East Coast on 1 March 2015.[9][10][11]

Principal services

London – Leeds

This is the busiest East Coast service – half-hourly, with one train per hour serving Peterborough, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate and Leeds, while the other serves Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate and Leeds. At weekends, they call at Stevenage every two hours while Peterborough, Grantham, Newark, Doncaster and Wakefield are served hourly.

London – Newcastle

East Coast operates a half-hourly service between King's Cross and Newcastle Central (one fast, one semi-fast) throughout the day, departing from London on the hour and the half-hour. The top-of-the-hour trains are part of the London to Scotland services which run as limited-stop expresses between London and Newcastle (as seen below). The half-hour train calls at Peterborough, Newark, Doncaster, York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham and terminates at Newcastle. This train is extended to Edinburgh at peak times. At weekends, all daytime services to Newcastle continue through to Edinburgh, with some going non-stop. Late evening services terminate at Newcastle.

London – Edinburgh

This is East Coast's flagship route, serving the whole length of the East Coast Main Line; an hourly service from London to Edinburgh Waverley, calling at York, Darlington, Newcastle Central, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Edinburgh. Some of these trains also call at Peterborough. Occasionally there is a half-hourly service to Edinburgh with some Newcastle trains extended at peak hours. At weekends all services on the half-hour continue to Edinburgh from Newcastle.

During the day, services to London King's Cross from Edinburgh run every 30 minutes, one fast and one semi-fast. All trains call at Newcastle and most at Berwick upon Tweed, Darlington and York. In May 2011 East Coast re-introduced the historic Flying Scotsman service. This is an early-morning service to London King's Cross with a journey time of 4 hours, departing Edinburgh Waverley at 05:40, calling only at Newcastle Central at 07:03 and arriving at London at 09:40.

London – Newark/York

An hourly service runs between King's Cross and Newark, calling at all intermediate stations. This is extended to York every two hours, serving Retford and Doncaster and at peak times is extended to Newcastle. These services operate only on weekdays.

A Map of East Coast Services showing the service pattern each hour and extensions

Limited Service

London - Newcastle - Edinburgh - Glasgow

There is now only one direct through train per day in each direction between King's Cross and Glasgow Central departing King's Cross at 15.30 as an extension of a London to Newcastle service also calling at Edinburgh. A faster and much more frequent service to Glasgow operates from London Euston via the West Coast Main Line. There is no East Coast service to Glasgow on Saturdays.

London - Edinburgh - Aberdeen

These trains are extensions to the hourly London-to-Edinburgh service. There are three trains per day each way between King's Cross and Aberdeen, departing at 10:00 (The Northern Lights), 14:00 and 16:00 (Weekdays only), the journey time being just over seven hours. There is also one service per day in each direction between Leeds and Aberdeen. These services are operated by InterCity 125 sets, as the Edinburgh to Aberdeen line and York to Leeds section via Garforth are not electrified. This route makes use of the historic Forth and Tay bridges.

London - Edinburgh - Inverness

This is an extension of a London-to-Edinburgh service with a daily service operates between King's Cross and Inverness, departing at 12:00 with the southbound service departing Inverness at 7:55 (09-40 Sundays), named the Highland Chieftain. The journey takes just over eight hours and is operated by InterCity 125 sets, as the line between Edinburgh and Inverness is not electrified.

London - Leeds - Bradford

One train per day in each direction runs between Bradford Forster Square, Shipley and King's Cross via Leeds. This uses an electric InterCity 225 train as the route is fully electrified. This service offers the fastest journey time of 1hr 59m with a solitary stop at Wakefield Westgate on the way to London.

London - Leeds - Skipton

There is a morning train from Skipton and Keighley to King's Cross with an early evening return. Shipley is served towards King's Cross only.

This is an extension of the London to Leeds service. Though the line to Skipton is electrified throughout, the East Coast service to/from the town was operated using a diesel HST because the electrical infrastructure on the Leeds to Skipton line was insufficient to support a Class 91 locomotive in addition to the Class 333 Electric Multiple Units that operate the local services from Leeds to Skipton.

However, tests took place on 16 January 2011 for the operation of InterCity 225s on this service. From the timetable starting 22 May 2011, the evening return train from Kings Cross is worked by an InterCity 225 (Monday – Fridays only).[12]

The Saturday run of the outward service is the only East Coast service out of Leeds not to call at Wakefield Westgate: from Leeds, this service takes the route via Micklefield and Hambleton Junctions to Doncaster. Although the other trains to/from Skipton use the InterCity 225, the Saturday run of the outward service uses the InterCity 125 because the alternative route used is not fully electrified.

On a Sunday only a Northbound service runs.

London - Newark - Lincoln

Since May 2011 a direct train from King's Cross to Lincoln Central has operated, with one service per day in each direction as an extension of the London – Newark service. This service uses a diesel InterCity 125 set as the Nottingham to Lincoln line is not electrified.

London - Hull

The Hull Executive runs between King's Cross and Hull, with one train per day each way. This service also uses InterCity 125 sets, as the Hull line is not electrified. More frequent services between King's Cross and Hull are operated by First Hull Trains. Note though no southbound service runs on a Sunday morning (northbound still runs in evening however)

London - Leeds - Harrogate

There is a Monday-Saturday morning departure from Harrogate to King's Cross also calling at Horsforth (Monday to Fridays only) via Leeds. There is an evening return, which does not call at Horsforth. This service uses a diesel InterCity 125 set as the Harrogate line is not electrified.

Rolling stock

Current fleet

East Coast inherited the rolling stock operated by NXEC, comprising Class 43 diesel sets with their Mark 3 coaching stock (InterCity 125), and Class 91 electric locomotives and Mark 4 coaches (InterCity 225).

The original franchise holder, GNER, undertook a major refurbishment of its rolling stock from 2003, which it titled "Project Mallard". Between 2003 and 2006, the Mark 4 carriage fleet was upgraded and refurbished, while work started on refurbishing the Mark 3 coaches under GNER in early 2007. This work continued under NXEC, with the final InterCity 125 set completed in October 2009.[13]

Until October 2010, East Coast offered free Wi-Fi to passengers in both first and standard class. From 5 October 2010, a charge of £4.99 per hour or £9.99 for 24 hours was introduced for Standard Class passengers, with a 15-minute free allowance.[14]

As part of an overhaul of the InterCity 225 fleet, they were repainted into East Coast's silver livery. The repaint was started in June 2010 with the first full set (excluding loco) being released on 30 July 2010. The idea is that a plain base livery can be easily customised for any future operator of the franchise.[15]

 Trainset   Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Routes operated 
 mph   km/h 
InterCity 125 Class 43 Diesel locomotive 125 200 32 London Kings Cross-Lincoln Central, Harrogate, Hull Paragon, Aberdeen & Inverness. Also Skipton-London King's Cross (Saturdays only) and Leeds-Aberdeen
Mark 3 carriage Passenger carriage 125 200 117
InterCity 225 Class 91 Electric locomotive 140 225 31 London Kings Cross-Leeds, Bradford Forster Square, Newark North Gate, Skipton, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh Waverley & Glasgow Central
Mark 4 carriage Passenger carriage 140 225 302
Driving Van Trailer 140 225 31

Intercity Express Programme

The holder of the new East Coast franchise will participate in the Intercity Express Programme along with First Great Western. The project will replace the Intercity 125 and InterCity 225 fleets with new Hitachi high-speed trains, and provide additional electric trains. By December 2018 the new trains are planned to be running on the East Coast main line in 9-carriage or 5-carriage sets.[16][17]

Cancelled future fleet

Originally East Coast were to receive five Class 180 Adelante DMUs. Due to a reduction in the number of extra services, and with Directly Operated Railways stating its unhappiness with the Class 180 units,[18] they are no longer required and will not be used by East Coast. Instead, the five Class 180 units were sent to First Great Western for use on the Cotswold Line.

East Coast investigated using one 11-coach Pendolino from July 2011[19] but decided instead to lease an extra HST set from East Midlands Trains from May 2011, bringing the number of HSTs leased to 14.[20]

Locomotive naming

The fleet of Class 91 locomotives inherited by East Coast has carried various names up until 2008. In 2011, in response to customer requests, East Coast resumed the practice. It began by naming 91109 as Sir Bobby Robson, unveiled in a ceremony at Newcastle Central Station on 29 March 2011 by his widow Elsie and Alan Shearer, patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, which the company was also now a supporter of.[21][22]

On 2 June 2012 91110 was renamed "Battle of Britain Memorial Flight" by Carol Vorderman at the National Railway Museum as part of the Railfest 2012 Event.[23]

In February 2013, the company announced that one of their trains would be named "Skyfall" after the James Bond film of the same name, which featured trains extensively and became the highest-grossing film of all time in the United Kingdom.[24]

On Tuesday 14 October 2014, 91 111 was unveiled to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War. The specially-designed East Coast locomotive, named 'For The Fallen', carries a livery filled with images, stories and tributes to regiments and people who served in them across the East Coast route.[25]


The latest performance figures to be released by Network Rail rate East Coast's performance up on the same period last year. This period (period 7 of 2013/14), punctuality rose 0.3 percentage points on last year to 89.3% PPM whilst the moving annual average fell to 82.8% (up to 12 October 2013).[26]

TV series

In November 2013 Sky1 HD started to broadcast a documentary series "All Aboard East Coast Trains".[27] One of the InterCity 225 sets was painted in a special blue livery which includes faces of employees that feature in the programmes in order to promote the series.[28]


  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 4659708
  2. ^ "East Coast rail change confirmed". BBC News Online. 5 November 2009. Retrieved 5 November 2009. 
  3. ^ "East Coast rail to be state-run". BBC News. 1 July 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "National Express East Coast franchise" (Press release). Department for Transport. 1 July 2009. 
  5. ^ "Railway plan puts new focus on passengers" Secretary of State for Transport statement 26 March 2013
  6. ^ "Three bidders announced in competition for East Coast rail franchise". STV News. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  7. ^ East Coast rail shortlist revealed BBC News 17 January 2014
  8. ^ InterCity East Coast franchise shortlist announced Railway Gazette 17 January 2014
  9. ^ More seats, more services and new trains for East Coast passengers Department for Transport 27 November 2014
  10. ^ Stagecoach and Virgin win East Cost mainline rail franchise BBC News 27 November 2014
  11. ^ 3.3bn premium wins East Coast franchise for Stagecoach and Virgin Railway Gazette 27 November 2014
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Final East Coast HST set handed over", Railway Herald, Issue 200, p. 5.
  14. ^ "East Coast > WiFi". National Express. Retrieved 20 November 2009. 
  15. ^ "'Silver link': East Coast IC225s to be reliveried". The Railway Magazine (London) 156 (1308): 6. April 2010.  
  16. ^ "Intercity Rail Travel Presentation". Department for Transport. 27 June 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  17. ^ "Britain's Intercity Express Programme reaches financial close". International railway journal. 25 July 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  18. ^ Miles, Tony (November 2009). "DOR evaluates alternative to Adelante sets". Modern Railways (London): 74. 
  19. ^ "Test Pendolino for East Coast line raises Virgin hackles". RailNews (Stevenage). 13 August 2010. Retrieved 16 August 2010. 
  20. ^ "East Coast leases 14th HST from May". Rail (Peterborough) (669). 4 May 2011. 
  21. ^ "Sir Bobby Robson name given to train". BBC News Online. 29 March 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  22. ^ "East Coast Names Train Sir Bobby Robson" (Press release). East Coast. 29 March 2011. Archived from the original on 29 March 2011. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  23. ^ "Railfest 2012". York: National Railway Museum. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ "EAST COAST UNVEILS MOVING TRIBUTE ‘FOR THE FALLEN’". East Coast. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014. 
  26. ^ "Rail performance results period 7". Network Rail. 
  27. ^
  28. ^

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Official website
  • Department for Transport Directly Operated Railways
  • Department for Transport InterCity East Coast franchise
Preceded by
National Express East Coast
Operator of InterCity East Coast franchise
Succeeded by
Virgin Trains East Coast
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