The 1st March 2015 marks the day that control of the east coast mainline was handed back to the private sector, into the hands of Inter City Railways. This joint venture between Stagecoach and Virgin Trains was awarded the franchise back in November last year and it will operate the line for 8 years. The service will operate as Virgin Trains East Coast and will continue as a key route connecting London and Edinburgh with other cities such as Newcastle and York. State-owned Directly Operated Rail (DOR) has operated the mainline since November 2009 after the franchise owner National Express pulled out due to it not being financially viable.
There has been uproar with the return to the private sector, with the RMT union staging demonstrations in cities along the line. While operated by DOR, the line returned £1 billion to the treasury and passenger satisfaction was at its highest level, but the Department for Transport say that privatisation will fast track profits with suggestions that £3 billion will be recovered over the term of the franchise. The plans include investment with the aim of adding new routes, increasing the number of seats and reducing travel times with the addition of new updated trains. Labour and transport unions are against the privatisation and Labour say they will investigate nationalising the railways if the win power in the General Election this May.