LNER’S CONTRACT as part of the Department for Transport’s Operator of Last Resort Holdings company could continue until 2025.

The company took over operation of East Coast main line services in June 2018, when the Virgin Trains East Coast franchise came to an end.At the time the OLR Holdings company was awarded a contract running to July 2020, with the period of public operation planned to pave the way to the East Coast Partnership, a proposed collaboration between the train operator and infrastructure owner.

However, on 28 June the Department for Transport published a Prior Information Notice stating a direct award for LNER is now envisaged. Starting on 28 June 2020, this could run for up to five years; DfT says this is likely to include a core period of at least one year with an optional additional period or periods exercisable at the sole discretion of the contracting authority.

DfT also published a notice on 28 June confirming it is extending the validity of the Rail Franchising Passport System for three years until September 2022 in order to ‘help facilitate the smooth implementation of any recommendations from the rail review’. Holders of passports are eligible to express an interest in future competitions during the lifetime of the passport without having to resubmit certain information.

There are currently 18 passport holders: Abellio; Amey; Arriva; a consortium of East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui; FirstGroup; Go-Ahead; Govia; Keolis; Metroline; MTR; National Express; Italian operator NTV; Spanish operator Renfe; SNCF; Stagecoach; Transdev; Trenitalia; and Virgin Holdings.


Colourful livery: this Class 700 has received rainbow decals to mark the Brighton & Hove Pride event on 2-4 August.No 700155 was caught by the camera under the impressive overall roof at Brighton station.

Right: Pride of GTR: Design and Content Apprentice Maggie Luckhurst, a member of the company’s LGBT+ network, has created the ‘trainbow’ design with the employee tagline ‘Our people bring out our best colours’. Courtesy GTR