National Express confirmed this morning that it would put the £1.4bn east coast rail franchise back into public ownership as it announced the departure of Richard Bowker, the chief executive who sanctioned the bid for the London-to-Edinburgh route.
In a serious blow to the government’s franchise policy, National Express said it would work with the Department for Transport (DfT) “to ensure an orderly handover and ensure that passengers, services and employees are unaffected”.
The group expects to relinquish the contract later this year, once its funding commitments for the financial year run out.
National Express rejected government warnings that it might have to hand back its c2c London-to Essex service and National Express East Anglia franchises under cross-default guidelines. The group said a default on its east coast (NXEC) franchise would have no material effect on the other franchises and therefore would not qualify for cross-default.
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