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Great North Eastern Railway settles for two-year franchise extension

Great Britain’s government Jan. 15 extended Great North Eastern Railway’s (GNER) franchise two years to April 2005.
GNER, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sea Containers Ltd., last year sought a new 20-year franchise tender, which hinged on an upgrade to its East Coast Main Line (ECML) between London and Scotland.
The 20-year proposal wasn’t forwarded by Secretary of State for Transport because of West Coast Main Line’s modernization cost overruns, Railtrack’s woes and problems tied to the ECML upgrade, according to a GNER prepared statement.
Through April 2005, GNER plans to spend $119 million on improvements, including refurbishing and improving all 302 coaches in its existing electric train fleet, overhauling and upgrading all locomotives, and installing train protection and warning system. GNER also plans to lease six rescue locomotives to replace existing antiquated and unreliable units, and lengthen nine diesel trains by one coach to boost train capacities.
The railway, too, would lease an extra train set from Eurostar (UK) Ltd. and, together with two other sets, operate them in summer on the London-Leeds route.
Other planned improvements include improving coach seating and toilets, enlarging buffet areas, creating more luggage storage, upgrading public-address systems, adding plug-in sockets for laptops and modernizing stations.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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