Rail services formerly operated by National Express East Coast will from just before midnight transfer to East Coast Main Line Company Limited (East Coast), the new operator of the service.
The services run between London Kings Cross and destinations including York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness.
East Coast has pledged continuity of service but also improvements to the service over the next two years while it rests in public hands.
Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis said:
East Coast will remain in public hands for two years and there will be full continuity of service. But this is not a care and maintenance job I want to see real improvements in the service and better value for money.
East Coast staff have real pride in their jobs; they want to offer a fantastic service, and the new company will give them the tools for the job.
This is a profitable railway it needs to be the pride of its passengers and staff too and thats my aim for East Coast.
Improvements and changes include:
An end to charges for seat reservations from January 1, 2010;12 million for improvements at stations, including enhancements to Newcastle, York, and Peterborough. The focus of investment in stations is designed to add significant benefits for customers, these include the provision of 200 new cycle spaces at Newcastle, 100 at York and 150 at Peterborough;An immediate review of on-board catering in both standard and first-class, with a view to improvements from next year; Better standards of cleanliness on board trains and at East Coast managed stations;Further service improvements including a new Saturday evening service from Kings Cross to Leeds and an additional Sunday morning service from Leeds to Kings Cross;The withdrawal of the planned gating of York station in order to maintain the existing through access for non-passengers, while accelerating the completion of gating at Kings Cross to deter fare dodgers.
Elaine Holt, Chairman of East Coast, said:
On day one its about business as usual for staff and customers. In the coming weeks and months, our first priority is to deliver the basics to a consistently high standard. That means systematically maintaining a good reliable and punctual train service; helpful and proactive staff; well maintained, clean and accessible stations and trains; and good quality information for every step of the journey.
Over time well introduce further improvements to the service, the stations and the trains our aim is to make sure that East Coast is the preferred way to travel along the length of the route and the best performing long distance rail operator.
The Company also announced today the appointment of Karen Boswell [note 4] as the new Managing Director of East Coast.
At the point of transfer, all other members of the former National Express East Coast management team will join East Coast Main Line Company, under TUPE arrangements.