National Express East Coast apply charges

National Express East Coast is one of the Britain’s most esteemed franchises. The business is now charging travellers for seat reservations, indicating the industry’s cash-strapped condition.

On Tuesday, an important meeting was held between the transport secretary Geoff Hoon and public transport executives. Later, the operator of the London to Edinburgh course confirmed it could charge a minimum of £1 per reservation.

Recent revenue data shown to the Observer newspaper revealed an alarming low development rate at some of the country’s major franchises.

Data distributed to the members of the Association of Train Operating Companies confirmed that the revenue development of intercity franchises was just 4% in November and December. This includes names such as Virgin Trains, National Express East Coast, First TransPennine, Arriva-owned Cross Country, Stagecoach’s East Midlands and First Great Western.

Rail industry insiders said that a number of franchises would have pencilled-in advanced revenue development figures for their contracts. In November and December, one of the shortlisted bidders for the east coast franchise had factored in revenue development of 8%.

According to National Express, a charge of £1 or more will be brought in, in order to provide a solution for reserved seats not being utilised.