The Importance of the East Coast Main Line to the economy of the North East

19 June 2014

North East councils have highlighted the importance of the East Coast Main Line to the future economic prosperity of the North East with each of the shortlisted bidders for the new franchise.

One of the key strengths of the North East is that it is the only area of the country with a positive balance of trade, with a wealth of innovative industries and advanced technologies, which means it is well placed to make an enormous contribution to the national economy.    As business and local authority partners consistently highlight – the capacity exists for this area of the country to play a much greater role in UK growth. 

Efficient transport connections and investment and improvements in the East Coast Main Line have a crucial role to play in the economic growth and prosperity of this area and in helping re-balance the national economy.   As highlighted in both the North East LEP and Tees Valley LEP economic strategies, there is compelling evidence that transport investment will make the maximum impact on productivity, job creation and GVA where it improves the North East’s strategic connectivity.

Improved links between the North East and Edinburgh and improved connectivity to the Leeds City Region and to the Midlands and to London will bring major economic conurbations closer together and stimulate further economic growth. 

High quality, reliable and punctual ECML services are vital to our connectivity and for the future competitiveness and prosperity of the North East.  

We have aspirations for early improvements on the ECML route and consider that the franchise period can provide real scope for the successful operator to invest in better service quality, punctuality, performance and passenger experience.  

Increasing capacity, higher speeds and shorter end to end journey times are priorities for the North East.

We also highlight the importance of the ECML as a key economic driver, not just in relation to passenger rail services, but with an important role to play in supporting the development of freight to and from the region, including links with major ports in the North East.   Connections to the East Coast ports are important for international trade to support a variety of manufacturing and production sectors.

Capacity is a key issue for the North East, given that on much of the rail network, freight and passenger services share the same infrastructure.
  Projected growth in both passenger numbers and in freight tonnage means that investment in capacity is required to support growth of the economy of the North East.

The shortlisted ICEC Franchise Bidders are as follows:

  • First Group
  • Keolis Eurostar East Coast Limited
  • Intercity Railways Ltd

An announcement from DfT regarding the successful operator is expected towards the end of this year.

Find out more:

The East Coast Mainline - Key issues and strategic messages