UK Transport Wiki
Virgin Trains East Coast
[[Image:VirgintrainsEastcoast toc logo.jpg

VTEC logo


Franchise(s):InterCity East Coast
1 March 2015[1] – TBA
Main region(s):East Midlands, Yorkshire,
North East England, Central Scotland, Northern Scotland
Other region(s):London
Fleet size:31 Class 91 electric locomotives

30 InterCity 225 sets

11 InterCity 125 (HST) sets
Stations called at:53
Stations operated:12
National Rail abbreviation:GR
Parent company:Stagecoach / Virgin

Template:Virgin Trains East Coast route Virgin Trains East Coast is a British train operating company running high-speed passenger services on the East Coast Main Line between London, Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland. It started operations on 14 November 2009.[1]

Virgin Trains East Coast is a trading name of East Coast Main Line Company Ltd (ECMLCo), a subsidiary of Directly Operated Railways Limited, which was formed by the Department for Transport as an operator of last resort when National Express refused to offer any more financial support to its National Express East Coast (NXEC) subsidiary and consequently lost its franchise.

The government stated that it would temporarily re-nationalise the franchise and transfer the assets of NXEC to Directly Operated Railways, which would retain existing NXEC service levels, pending re-tendering the franchise in 2010,[2] a date that has now been postponed.

Virgin Trains East Coast operates long-distance passenger services principally from London King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley via Newcastle Central, and from King's Cross to Leeds, with other services reaching into Yorkshire and Northern and Central Scotland.

Principal routes[]


The service between King's Cross and Leeds is generally half-hourly, with all trains serving Leeds and (with one exception on Saturday morning) Wakefield Westgate, most trains serving Doncaster and Peterborough and some serving Newark, Retford, Grantham and Stevenage.


A half-hourly service between King's Cross and Newcastle Central operates for most of the day, departing from London on the hour and on the half-hour. These trains generally run as limited-stop expresses between London and Newcastle: all trains call at York, and most at Peterborough and Darlington, though afternoon and evening departures from King's Cross run non-stop to Doncaster or York. The trains leaving London on the half-hour generally terminate at Newcastle Central and serve other intermediate stations such as Grantham, Newark, Retford, Doncaster and Durham as well as Peterborough, York, and Darlington.


The 'top of the hour' departures from London continue through to Edinburgh (with the 10:00 keeping the traditional name Flying Scotsman), with a two-hourly extension to Glasgow Central. In November 2009, it was revealed that the Department for Transport was considering ending the through services to Glasgow Central, and terminating all services at Edinburgh,[3] on the basis of the increased frequency and shorter journey times (4hrs 31mins versus 5hrs 45mins) now available between London and Glasgow on the West Coast route.

Other routes[]


There are three trains per day each way between Aberdeen and King's Cross, departing 10:30 (The Northern Lights), 14:00 and 16:00, the journey time being just over seven hours. There is also one service per day arriving at Aberdeen from Leeds. These services are operated by HST sets, as the line between Aberdeen and Edinburgh is not electrified. This route makes use of the historic Forth and Tay bridges.


A daily service operates between Inverness and King's Cross called the Highland Chieftain. The journey takes just over eight hours and is operated with diesel HST sets, as the lines to Dunblane and Inverness are not electrified.


The Hull Executive runs between Hull and King's Cross, with one train per day each way. This service also uses HSTs as the Hull line is not electrified.


There is a morning train from Skipton and Keighley to King's Cross with an early evening return. Shipley is served towards King's Cross only. As with the Bradford train, this is an extension to the Leeds–London service. Though the line to Skipton is electrified throughout, the Virgin Trains East Coast service to/from the town is operated using a diesel HST because the electrical infrastructure on the Leeds to Skipton line is insufficient to support a Class 91 locomotive in addition to the class 333 EMUs (Electric Multiple Units) that operate the local services from Leeds to Skipton.


There is a Monday-Saturday morning HST departure from Harrogate to King's Cross also calling at Horsforth. However, there is no return journey so passengers are required to change at Leeds or York on to Northern Rail services to Harrogate. The Saturday running of this service is the week's only Virgin Trains East Coast southbound service from Leeds not to call at Wakefield Westgate. This service departs from Leeds and heads along the Selby line to join the East Coast Main Line at Hambleton.

Bradford Forster Square[]

One train per day in each direction runs between Bradford Forster Square, Shipley and King's Cross via Leeds.

Rolling stock[]

Current fleet[]

Virgin Trains East Coast has inherited the rolling stock operated by NXEC, which encompasses Class 43 diesel sets with their Mark 3 coaching stock (InterCity 125), and Class 91 electric locomotives and Mark 4 coaches (InterCity 225).

The original franchise holder, GNER, undertook a major refurbishment of its rolling stock from 2003, which it titled "Project Mallard". Between 2003 and 2006, every Mark 4 coach in its fleet was upgraded and refurbished, while work started on refurbishing the Mark 3 coaches under GNER in early 2007. This work continued under NXEC, with the final InterCity 125 set completed in October 2009.[4]

Until October 2010, East Coast offered free Wi-Fi to passengers in both first and standard class. From 5 October 2010, a charge of £4.99 per hour or £9.99 for 24 hours was introduced for Standard Class passengers, with a 15 minute free allowance.[5]

As part of an overhaul of the Mark 4 coaches, the coaches and DVT's are being repainted from the current mix of GNER/NXEC interim livery, to a new silver livery dubbed 'Silver link'. The repaint was started in June 2010 with the first full set (excluding loco) being released on 30 July 2010. The idea is that a plain base livery can be easily customised for any future operator of the franchise.[6] A picture of the new livery can be seen here.

 Trainset   Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Routes operated 
 mph   km/h 
InterCity 125 Class 43 100px Diesel locomotive 125 200 30 London Kings Cross-Aberdeen

London Kings Cross-Inverness

London Kings Cross-Edinburgh

London Kings Cross-Hull

London Kings Cross-Skipton

London Kings Cross-Harrogate


London Kings Cross-Newcastle Central

Mark 3 coach 100px Passenger carriage 125 200 117
InterCity 225 Class 91 100px Electric locomotive 140 225 31 London Kings Cross-Leeds

London Kings Cross-Edinburgh

London Kings Cross-Glasgow Central

London Kings Cross-Bradford Forster Square

London Kings Cross-Newcastle Central

Mark 4 coach 100px Passenger carriage 140 225 302
100px Driving Van Trailer 140 225 31

The decision to not run the planned two hourly service to Lincoln, with instead just one service per day in each direction, means that the five Class 180 units will no longer be required.[7]

Cancelled Future fleet[]

Originally East Coast were to receive 5 Class 180 Adelante DMUs, however, due to a reduction in the number of extra services, and with Directly Operated Railways stating its unhappiness with the Class 180 units[8] they are no longer required, and will not be used by East Coast.

Future High Speed Train[]

As part of the new InterCity East Coast franchise agreement, Virgin Trains East Coast will participate in the Intercity Express Programme, which would see a new high-speed train enter service. The project is intended to replace all of the remaining InterCity 125 and InterCity 225 rolling stock in operation.

 Class   Type   Top speed   Number   Introduction 
 mph   km/h 
Hitachi Super Express Diesel multiple unit
Electric multiple unit
Electro-diesel multiple unit
125 200 60+ 2013


The latest performance figures to be released by the Office of Rail Regulation rate East Coast's performance below that of its predecessor. Over the fourth quarter of the 2009/10 financial year East Coast achieved 86.1% PPM and a moving annual average of 87.4%.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Template:Cite news
  2. National Express East Coast franchise (1 July 2009).
  3. Template:Cite news
  4. "Final East Coast HST set handed over", Railway Herald, Issue 200, p. 5.
  5. Virgin Trains East Coast > WiFi. National Express. Retrieved on 2009-11-20.
  6. "Headline News - 'Silver link': East Coast IC225s to be reliveried" (April 2010). The Railway Magazine 156 (1308). London: IPC Media. ISSN 0033-8923. 
  7. Changes to East Coast Eureka! Timetable Proposals - East Coast 17/06/10
  8. "DOR evaluates alternative to Adelante sets" (November 2009). Modern Railways. 
  9. National Rail Trends Chapter 2. ORR.

External links[]

Template:Commons category

Preceded by
East Coast
InterCity East Coast franchise
Operator of InterCity East Coast franchise
2009 - TBA

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