THE Government has published a shortlist of three bidders under plans to re-privatise the East Coast mainline - which runs from Edinburgh to London.
Some of the biggest transport firms, already running rail routes across the UK, including the First Group, Stagecoach, Virgin, Keolis and Eurostar, are on the list of preferred bidders for the 393-mile route.
Unions and other groups have been campaigning for months to halt re-privatisation of the franchise, which has been publicly-run since 2009. One union official accused the Government of “economic vandalism”.
Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said: “Giving passengers more will be at the heart of the new East Coast franchise. That means new services and journeys that are faster, more punctual and more comfortable.
“When these companies are developing their proposals they should be looking at ways to innovate and grow the service.
“We have embarked on one of the biggest programmes of rail investment ever, with over £35 billion being spent to enhance and run our rail network over the next five years.
“But for our railways to continue to grow we need strong private sector partners who can invest and innovate in ways that deliver a world class service.”