East Coast Trains

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East Coast Trains
Franchise(s) Open-access operator
Not subject to franchising
Starts May 2021
Stations called at 5
Parent company FirstGroup

East Coast Trains[1] is a future open access operator in the United Kingdom owned by FirstGroup. It has been granted permission by the Office of Rail & Road to operate up to five return services per day between London King's Cross and Edinburgh via the East Coast Main Line from May 2021.


In 2015, the Office of Rail & Road called for expressions of interest for open access operators to bid for extra paths on the East Coast Main Line. In May 2016, FirstGroup were granted a track-access agreement for five services in each direction from May 2021.[2][3][4]


East Coast Trains
London King's Cross

East Coast Trains will operate five services a day in each direction between London King's Cross and Edinburgh calling at Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.[4]


FirstGroup intends to compete with existing rail, coach and air services on the London-Edinburgh route by offering tickets with an average fare price of £25 and free Wi-Fi connectivity for all passengers.[5]

Rolling stock[edit]

East Coast Trains plan to procure a fleet of five 5-car 125 mph (200 km/h) electric multiple units similar to the Hitachi Rail Class 801 trains.[6] All trains will have buffet cars and only one class of seating accommodation, with no first class carriages available.[4][7][8]

 Trainset   Class  Image  Top speed   Number   Cars per Set   Routes operated 
 mph  km/h 
Class 801 Intercity Express Train VTEC 801101.jpg EMU 140 225 5 5 London Kings Cross- Edinburgh Waverley


  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 8765536 East Coast Trains Limited
  2. ^ Applications for the East Coast Main Line Office of Rail & Road 12 May 2016
  3. ^ First Group to run Edinburgh to London budget rail service BBC News 12 May 2016
  4. ^ a b c VTEC and FirstGroup granted East Coast Main Line paths Railway Gazette International 12 May 2016
  5. ^ "Budget East Coast Train Service Is Approved". Sky News. Sky. 12 May 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2018. 'Our brand-new trains will be cheaper than other rail services, greener than the plane, quicker than the coach and will get passengers from London to Edinburgh earlier than they can arrive today, all for an average fare of less than £25.'
  6. ^ "FirstGroup targets airlines with London – Edinburgh open access proposal". Railway Gazette International. Sutton: DVV Media Group. 10 March 2015. ISSN 0373-5346. Retrieved 18 October 2018. These would be five-car electric trainsets operating at 200 km/h with ‘performance characteristics that will as a minimum match’ the Class 800/801 rolling stock currently being built by Hitachi for use by franchised operator Virgin Trains East Coast.
  7. ^ "First Group launches London - Edinburgh open access plans" Rail Magazine issue 770 18 March 2015 page 20
  8. ^ "First Group plans ECML service" Today's Railways issue 161 May 2015 page 13