London North Eastern Railway

London North Eastern Railway[2] (LNER) is a British train operating company. It is owned by the DfT OLR Holdings for the Department for Transport (DfT). The company's name echoes that of the London and North Eastern Railway, one of the Big Four companies which operated between 1923 and 1948.

London North Eastern Railway
LNER Logo 2019.svg
LNER 91121 and 800113 Kings Cross.jpg
Franchise(s)InterCity East Coast
24 June 2018 – 2025
Main region(s)
Fleet size
Stations called at55
Stations operated11
Parent companyDfT OLR Holdings for Department for Transport
Reporting markGR
PredecessorVirgin Trains East Coast
Other Edit this at Wikidata
London North Eastern Railway
Blair Atholl
Dunkeld & Birnam
Falkirk Grahamston
Glasgow Central Glasgow Subway
Haymarket Edinburgh Trams
Edinburgh Waverley Edinburgh Trams
Sunderland Tyne and Wear Metro
Newcastle Tyne and Wear Metro
Bradford Forster Square
Hull Paragon
Wakefield Westgate
Newark North Gate
London King's Cross London Underground
The route map for the May to December 2019 LNER timetable
The five daily Lincoln services, which are an extension of terminating services at Newark North Gate, will go live during the currency of this timetable[1]

During June 2018, LNER took over the InterCity East Coast franchise, after the previous privately owned operator Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) returned it to the government following sustained financial difficulties. The DfT intended for the company to operate the franchise until a new public–private partnership could be established during 2020. However, in July 2019, it was announced that LNER had been given a direct-award to run these services beyond 28 June 2020, up until 2025, making it the longest franchise on the East Coast Main Line since Great North Eastern Railway (GNER).[3] Early on, the integration of Great Northern services into LNER's operation after the expiration of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise in 2021 was being actively considered as well.

LNER provides long-distance inter-city services on the East Coast Main Line; the principal destinations served are Leeds, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh. It directly manages 11 stations,[4] while its trains call at 55 stations in total. LNER's initial rolling stock consisted of a fleet of InterCity 125 and InterCity 225 high speed trains that it had inherited from VTEC. During May 2019, the first batch of Class 800 bi-mode high speed multiple units, based on the Hitachi A-train platform, entered service, followed by the very similar Class 801 electric multiple units during September of that year. Branded by LNER as the Azuma, their introduction has permitted the InterCity 125 sets to be withdrawn from service entirely, along with most of the InterCity 225s. A limited number of InterCity 225 sets have been retained and continue to be regularly operated by LNER.



During November 2017, the then Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, announced the early termination of the InterCity East Coast franchise in 2020, three years ahead of schedule; this action had followed persistent losses incurred by Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC), the operator of the route. VTEC had been contracted to pay more than £2 billion in franchise premiums to the British government across the final four years of its contract.[5][6]

In February 2018, the end date of the VTEC franchise was brought forward to mid-2018; the Department for Transport (DfT) had decided to either negotiate with VTEC for it to continue running the franchise on a temporary non-profit basis while a new franchise competition was conducted, or to arrange for VTEC be taken over by the DfT's operator of last resort.[7][8][9] On 16 May 2018, it was announced that the latter option was now being pursued and as such, LNER would take over operations from VTEC on 24 June 2018.[10][11] The DfT also announced that LNER would be the long-term brand applied to the InterCity East Coast franchise.[12] During a speech in May 2018, the Secretary of State for Transport stated that Great Northern services could potentially be integrated into the operation when the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise expires in 2021 as part of the overall strategy for the East Coast franchise.[13]

The setting up of LNER is the second occasion that a government-appointed operator of last resort has taken control of the InterCity East Coast franchise; between 2009 and 2015, the franchise had been operated by East Coast. It had taken over operations from National Express East Coast after that operator had defaulted on franchise payments to the government, and thus had its franchise taken away.[14] East Coast had been the prior operator to VTEC being selected to take over the franchise.[15]


A major aspect of LNER's vision for the franchise has been the rollout of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). David Horne, LNER's managing director, stated that digital signalling is necessary to unlock the full capabilities of its rolling stock, enabling drivers to continuously receive information in real time, yielding improvements in responsiveness, safety, and reliability over the traditional lineside signalling.[16] The company has worked with Network Rail, the British government, and the trade unions on this endeavour, and has been heavily involved in the planning and preparatory works; it has also undertaking the training of its staff in readiness for its use.[17]

By mid-2020, LNER had considerably curtailed its services in response to the significant decline of passenger travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.[18][19] From 15 June 2020, both passengers and staff on public transport in England, including LNER services, were required to wear face coverings while travelling, and that anyone failing to do so would be liable to be refused travel or fined.[20][21]

LNER is one of several train operators impacted by the 2022–2023 United Kingdom railway strikes, which are the first national rail strikes in the UK for three decades.[22] Its workers are amongst those who have voted in favour of taking industrial action due to a dispute over pay and working conditions.[23][24] LNER appealed to the public not to use its services on the days of the strikes, as it was only capable of operating a very minimalist timetable on any of these dates due to the number of its staff that participated.[25][26]


As of December 2022, the off-peak and daily service pattern Monday to Friday is:[27]

Regular services
Route tph Calling at
London King's Cross to Lincoln 1tp2h
London King's Cross to York 1tp2h
London King's Cross to Leeds 1
  • Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate
London King's Cross to Harrogate 1tp2h
  • Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, Horsforth
London King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley 1tp2h
Irregular services
Route tpd Calling at
London King's Cross to Bradford Forster Square 2
  • Stevenage, Grantham, Retford (Bradford-bound only), Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, Shipley[a]
  • One train London-bound does not call at Doncaster, Grantham, or Stevenage
London King's Cross to Skipton 1
  • Peterborough, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, Wakefield Westgate, Leeds, Shipley[a] (London-bound only), Keighley[a]
London King's Cross to Hull 1
  • Peterborough (Hull-bound only), Grantham, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, Selby, Brough
  • An additional train from Hull terminates at Doncaster
London King's Cross to Middlesbrough 1
London King's Cross to Sunderland 1
  • Peterborough (London-bound only), York, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle
London King's Cross to Glasgow Central 1
  • Peterborough, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, York, Northallerton, Darlington, Durham, Newcastle, Alnmouth, Edinburgh Waverley, Haymarket, Motherwell
London King's Cross/Leeds to Aberdeen 4
  • 1 train per day terminates at Leeds instead of London King's Cross
London King's Cross to Stirling 1
  • York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Edinburgh Waverley, Haymarket, Falkirk Grahamston
London King's Cross to Inverness 1
  1. ^ a b c Served to pick up only southbound and set down only northbound

An expanded service to Lincoln began on 21 October 2019 when four terminating services at Newark Northgate were extended into Lincoln.[28] This is in addition to the sole one train per day service, which in all, now provides five out and back workings to and from London King's Cross. LNER also plans for December 2019 timetable change that a sixth return service to London from Lincoln will be introduced and five extra services on a Saturday will begin from 7 December 2019.[29] From December 2019, LNER introduced a Harrogate to London service 6 times a day.[30] LNER expects to introduce two-hourly services to Bradford and a daily service to Huddersfield in May 2020 when more Azuma trains have been introduced.[31][32]

During September 2018, a proposed service to Middlesbrough was announced, though the Rail Minister, Jo Johnson, informed Parliament that this proposal was dependent on the Azumas being brought into service on the ECML, in addition to other schemes then in progress, that would provide sufficient capacity to enable the service to run.[33] This service commenced on 13 December 2021.[citation needed]

Named servicesEdit

London North Eastern Railway operates a number of named passenger services:

Name Origin Destination Other details
Flying Scotsman Edinburgh Waverley London King's Cross Service began 1862 in both directions; named by LNER in 1924. Now Edinburgh to London and only stops at Newcastle railway station for a driver/crew swap.
Highland Chieftain London King's Cross Inverness The longest LNER route
Northern Lights London King's Cross Aberdeen
West Riding Limited Bradford Forster Square London King's Cross Operates from Bradford to London only.

Rolling stockEdit

Three generations of East Coast Main Line trains at York. A Class 43 InterCity 125 (left) with a Class 800 Azuma (centre) and a InterCity 225 (right)

At its commencement, LNER operated a fleet of diesel-powered InterCity 125 and electric InterCity 225 high speed trains that it had inherited from Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC). Since September 2016, VTEC had also hired three Class 90s from DB Cargo for use on services to Newark, York and Leeds. LNER inherited these locomotives and retained them until June 2019 to cover for the shortage of Class 91 locomotives.[citation needed]

During May 2019, the first batch of Class 800 new-build high speed trains began entering service, the very similar Class 801 trains also followed in September of that year. These units are based on the Hitachi A-train design and LNER retained the Azuma brand for the units which was originally designated by VTEC.[34] The initial operation of these units allowed the InterCity 125 and InterCity 225 fleets to be replaced gradually. On 15 May, the first Azuma train to enter service, a nine-carriage 800/1, was operated on the Leeds route from King's Cross.[35] Other subclasses of the 800 and 801 variants entered service afterwards; the first two five-carriage 801/1 sets entered service on 16 September, operating as a ten-carriage train; the first lot of five-carriage 800/2 sets entered service to coincide with the launch of the new King's Cross - Lincoln services on 21 October while the first two nine-carriage 801/2 sets entered service on 18 November.[36][37][38][39] By May 2021, all units in the Azuma fleet had entered revenue service following unit 800109's return to service, which was the unit involved in the derailment at Neville Hill TMD in November 2019 and subsequently had to undergo repairs.[40][41]

Following the withdrawal of the InterCity 125 fleet in December 2019, it was previously thought that the InterCity 225 fleet would be fully withdrawn by June 2020.[42] However, on 29 January 2020, LNER announced that they would be retaining a limited number of the InterCity 225 fleet to deliver all of the benefits of their December 2021 timetable.[43] In September 2020, Eversholt Rail Group and London North Eastern Railway extended their lease to ten units by 2023; additionally, there are options to extend the time frame up to 2024. These retained units have been subject to an overhaul performed at Wabtec's Doncaster plant.[44][45] At the end of service on 15 January 2021, the remaining serviceable InterCity 225 sets went into storage temporarily as part of the East Coast Upgrade.[46] Originally, the plan was to return the sets to service for 7 June 2021, however, the first set actually re-entered service on 11 May 2021 due to a number of Azuma sets having to be taken temporarily out of service for inspections and repairs where appropriate.[47]

During June 2022, LNER unveiled its new livery, based on the traditional British Rail-era Intercity styling, on one of its InterCity 225 sets.[48]

Current fleetEdit

 Class  Image  Type  Top Operation Speed  Top speed  Number Built  Carriages   Notes 
mph  mph   km/h 
InterCity 225 trains
91   Electric locomotive 125 140 225 12 1988–1991 8 sets formed of 9 carriages each[49] Seating Map
Mark 4   Passenger carriage 73 1989–1992
Driving Van Trailer   Control car 9 1989-1991
Hitachi AT300 Azuma trains
800/1   Bi-mode multiple unit 100/124 124 200[50] 13 2015–2018 9 Seating Map
800/2 10 2018 5
801/1   Electric multiple unit 12 2017–2020 5
801/2 30 9

Past fleetEdit

The entry into service of the Azuma fleet allowed all fourteen of LNER's HST sets to be withdrawn from service, with the last three sets working their final services with LNER on 15 December 2019.[51] Nine of the sets transferred to East Midlands Railway, with two power cars from one set transferring to CrossCountry to supplement its existing five sets.[52]

 Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number  Built  Carriages 
 mph   km/h 
InterCity 125 trains (HSTs)
43   Diesel locomotive 125 200 32 1976–1982 14 sets formed of 9 carriages each
Mark 3   Passenger carriage 130 1975–1988
InterCity 225 trains
91   Electric locomotive 140 225 19 1988–1991 22 sets formed of 9 carriages each
Mark 4   Passenger carriage 198 1989–1992
Driving Van Trailer   Control car 22 1989-1991


LNER's fleet is stored and maintained at the following depots:


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External linksEdit

Preceded by Operator of InterCity East Coast franchise
Succeeded by