Failure to award new East Coast Mainline franchise

Stephen Byers, Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government & the Regions has announced that he will not be awarding the new franchise for the East Coast Main Line now.

Instead it is proposed that the existing franchise will be extended for two years, and that the new franchise will not start until April 2005.

Gavin Strang, MP for Edinburgh East and Musselburgh said today:

‘This is very disappointing news for Scotland.

‘Scotland needs new investment in the track and improvements to rail services now. Here in East Lothian and Edinburgh we are especially interested in the new Musselburgh Parkway station promised by one of the bidders for the new franchise.

‘There was a very strong case for awarding the new franchise promptly.
Firstly for environmental reasons. We must encourage more people to use the train on this route rather than fly or drive.

Secondly for economic reasons. The future prosperity of Scotland will depend on a decent transport infrastructure, and we need heavy investment in the rail system. Here in Edinburgh and the Lothians we were depending particularly on the East Coast Main Line.

‘The new franchise would have enabled the successful bidder to get on with the job of investing in the East Coast Main Line and improving services.

‘It is a great disappointment that this important work has been held back.’