Today the Department for Transport has announced that the following companies have successfully pre-qualified to bid as part of the inter-city east coast franchise competition.
East Coast Trains Ltd (First Group plc);
Keolis/Eurostar East Coast Ltd (Keolis (UK) Ltd and Eurostar International Ltd; and
Inter City Railways Ltd (Stagecoach Transport Holdings Ltd and Virgin Holdings Ltd).
In order to pass the pre-qualification evaluation each of the bidders had to demonstrate that they have the financial strength, legal, safety and operational experience to run this premier franchise. This is a further key milestone in our franchising programme in line with our published timetable and marks the next step in securing improvements for passengers on inter-city east coast services.
The Department plans to issue the invitation to tender to these companies by the end of February and they will then have three months to consider and develop their bids that will deliver benefits for passengers and long-term value for the taxpayer. The Government expect the new franchisee to commence services in February 2015.