Bidders for train operator that serves South Yorkshire announced

East Coast is the current publicly-owned operator
East Coast is the current publicly-owned operator
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The shortlift of bidders being invited to deliver proposals for improved services for Doncaster passengers on the East Coast main line franchise has been announced by the Government.

They are East Coast Trains Ltd (First Group plc); Keolis/Eurostar East Coast Ltd (Keolis (UK) Ltd and Eurostar International Ltd); and Inter City Railways Limited (Stagecoach Transport Holdings Ltd and Virgin Holdings Ltd).

Transport union RMT criticised the government over its privatisation plans.

He said: “The truth is that out of pure ideology, this government is prepared to take a third gamble on their big-business friends in a desperate bid to privatise the East Coast Mainline before the election, even though they are well aware that the whole reckless exercise will cost the British public hundreds of millions of pounds in lost income.

“The publicly owned East Coast is Britain’s most successful rail operation carrying more passengers per mile, more efficiently and with the highest levels of passenger satisfaction and handing over £200 million a year back to the taxpayers while comparable private train companies rob us blind. That is what the government are out to destroy.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said in a statement: “While the East Coast franchise has been stabilised under government ownership since 2009, the route now needs a long-term private sector operator to plan for the future and meet the increasing demands for more trains serving even more destinations.”

An announcement about the successful bidder is expected in autumn 2014, with the contract expected to start in February 2015.