The Department for Transport (DfT) today announced it is inviting Expressions of Interest to operate services on the InterCity East Coast Mainline. The new operator should be in place in 12 to 18 months.
Until a new operator is found, the government has agreed that the current operator, GNER, will operate the franchise on the Department's behalf under a temporary 'management agreement'.Under this agreement, GNER will continue to deliver train services for a smooth transition to the new franchise holder. GNER has agreed to cover the Department's costs of re-letting the franchise early, but most of the net worth of the company passes to the government.The DfT will accept expressions of interest from companies until 15 January 2007. Shortlisted applicants will be asked to bid against a government specification, published today.Secretary of state for transport Douglas Alexander said: 'The government made it clear that rail operators that fall into financial difficulty should expect to surrender the franchise and not receive financial support. To do otherwise could set the precedent that we are willing to bail out operators at extra cost to the taxpayer.'