At the moment we don't know what's happening with the East Coast franchise. At the end of 2017 it was announced the franchise was going to be terminated early in 2020 and replaced with a new East Coast Partnership franchise that is also responsible for the track and signalling. Then in February we were told that it was likely the VTEC franchise wouldn't last in its current form for more than a few months. The likely short term options are Stagecoach gets a management contract to run it until the new franchise is sorted out (this is what they did with GNER) or the government takes it over (this is what they did to National Express East Coast).

Even if the government takes over this doesn't mean things will necessarily go back to how things were pre-VTEC. For example the systems required to run East Coast Rewards will no longer be available as they were tied into the old booking engine. Hopefully they will see the value of a decent loyalty scheme in order to generate custom but even if they do it won't be ready from day one.

Other policies like the levels of on-board service are also not guaranteed. The government did not want buffet counters in the Class 800 (Azuma) trains, that is why the GWR IET fleet is trolley based catering only, just because East Coast were generally decent for catering does not mean that a new operator (public or private) will be the same.

So whether Stagecoach continues to run VTEC or another operator takes over it's important we do our most to avoid standards slipping.

Back to start: A review of the third year