Great Northern rail services through Royston could be merged into new LNER

Great Northern services could be merged into the new LNER. Picture: Govia Thameslink

Great Northern services could be merged into the new LNER. Picture: Govia Thameslink - Credit: Archant

Great Northern rail services through Royston could become part of a government-run franchise in the future, the Transport Secretary said yesterday.

Chris Grayling yesterday told parliament the East Coast Main Line between London and Edinburgh, operated by Stagecoach Group and Virgin Trains since 2015, will be put under an “operator of last resort” on June 24 and rebranded the London and North Eastern Railway, or LNER for short.

LNER is to be under government control for an interim period, ahead of an intended transfer to a public-private partnership in 2020.

Mr Grayling told parliament that no decision had yet been taken on the future of the Great Northern franchise – used by many Royston and South Cambs commuters – but that Great Northern services coming out of London King’s Cross might be merged into LNER.

He also said it was likely the contract under which Govia Thameslink runs the Great Northern line would be split up after it expires in 2021, and that he was having talks with the Mayor of London about whether some Great Northern services might be transferred to London Overground.


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A Great Northern spokesman told the Crow in response: “The government brought together Great Northern and Thameslink with Southern and Gatwick Express with a purpose and that was to modernise and introduce a new, expanded Thameslink network – which is what we will be doing from Sunday.”

Stagecoach said it and Virgin had been negotiating for a new contract with the Department for Transport but that it understood Mr Grayling was “no longer considering” them for the deal.

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