East Coast Line handed to state

The Department for Transport (DfT) will today take over the running of National Express’s East Coast Main Line, after the transport group failed to find the £1.3bn it needed to pay in premiums for the lifetime of the franchise. The rail unions are urging the DfT to keep the major London to Scotland route in public control permanently, but the government plans to return it to private ownership in 2011. Cash-strapped National Express said in July that it could no longer fund the line, forcing transport secretary Lord Adonis to intervene.