Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : East Coast Main Line – Joint Venture [April 2001]

The press release issued by the Strategic Rail Authority on 2 April 2001.

The Strategic Rail Authority today announced that it would establish a Joint Venture to take forward the upgrade of the East Coast Main Line from London to Yorkshire, North East England and Scotland. The SRA will lead the Joint Venture, whose members are expected also to include a project management company, the future train operator, Railtrack and external investors. The Joint Venture is consistent with the objectives set out in the SRA’s recently published Strategic Agenda, and will remove the responsibility of managing the East Coast Main Line upgrade and the burden of funding its costs from Railtrack. This fundamental change to the financing of the upgrade, compared with the original franchise proposition, means that both shortlisted counterparties will need to review their original proposals and indicate how they could participate in the Joint Venture. (The Counterparties are GNER Holdings and Virgin Stagecoach.) Subject to discussion with the parties, the SRA will ask for their response by 17th April. Following consideration and consultation with Ministers, the SRA will then announce the preferred bidder for the East Coast franchise.

SRA Chief Executive Mike Grant said:

“This major upgrade project is designed to provide extra capacity, reduce journey times and increase reliability on the route. It requires a public/private partnership to provide the necessary resources. As we said in our Strategic Agenda, ‘Railtrack cannot do it all, and the SRA needs to work with Railtrack and others to line up the resources of management as well as finance, needed to supply a safer, better and bigger system”.

“The East Coast Main Line upgrade will make a significant contribution to the SRA’s growth targets of 50% in passenger kilometres and 80% in freight tonne-kilometres by 2011 . We think it appropriate, in view of the introduction of a Joint Venture structure, to invite the shortlisted bidders to review their proposals, but today’s announcement ensures that the East Coast Main Line upgrade can be progressed to deliver increased capacity and alleviation of bottlenecks on the route”.

The upgrade scheme follows on from Phase 1, the upgrade of Leeds station and related works. It is currently being implemented and can be summarised as follows:

• Phase 2
(completed by 2006)
Remodelling of Peterborough Station
New platform at London Kings Cross.
Development of alternative freight lines to provide more capacity
– between Peterborough & Doncaster via Lincoln
– Doncaster – York
– Northallerton (North Yorkshire)
– Leamside Line reopening (Tyne & Wear)
– Additional track capacity, with freight loops, between Newcastle and Edinburgh.
• Phase 3
Hitchin flyover to relieve bottleneck, new flyover at(2008) Newark to replace flat crossing. Remodelling and flyover at Doncaster, and various power and junction upgrades.
• Proposed Phase 4
Additional viaduct at Welwyn to relieve bottleneck. Completing the four tracking between Hitchin and Peterborough. Further power upgrades.