THIRD class travel could be brought back to the East Coast Main Line for the first time in 50 years after Transport Minister Stephen Hammond admitted that new private bidders for the franchise would be “free to consider such initiatives” in a bid to make the route profitable.
In a written question, MP Alex Cunningham asked Mr Hammond whether bidders for future rail passenger franchises will be asked to consider providing an additional class of travel between first and standard class.
“The Department for Transport has no intention of requiring bidders to propose an intermediate class of travel as part of their bids for future rail passenger franchises,” said Mr Hammond. “Bidders are however free to consider such initiatives where they meet the overall requirements of the Department’s specification.”
The RMT rail union last month accused the government of a retrograde step when it claimed that it had leaked plans to bring back a third class travel option – which the government flatly denied.
At the time, a Department of Transport spokesman said the government had “no intention of requiring a ‘third class’ service, or in any way devaluing this vital railway”.