East Coast line to return to private hands

THE EAST Coast franchise could be back into the private sector in two years, as transport minister Patrick McLoughlin this morning announced the start of the bidding for the line.

The line, which runs from London to Scotland, has been in the public sector since 2009, when National Express handed the franchise back.

The competition process for the route will begin immediately, and it is expected to carry its first passengers by February 2015.

Both Virgin and FirstGroup are expected to place bids for the route when the tender process begins.

It comes as the transport secretary announced long-term plans to revamp UK franchise bids.