London North Eastern Railway

London North Eastern Railway[2] (LNER) is a British train operating company owned by the Department for Transport (DfT), unlike most UK train operating companies. LNER operates the InterCity East Coast franchise providing long-distance inter-city services on the East Coast Main Line from London King's Cross to North East England and Scotland. LNER manages 12 stations itself and its trains call at 53 stations in total.

London North Eastern Railway
Franchise(s)InterCity East Coast
24 June 2018 – 2025
Main region(s)
Fleet size
26 InterCity 225 sets

13 Class 800/1 Azuma (11 in service)

10 Class 800/2 Azuma (8 in service)

12 Class 801/1 Azuma (10 in service)

30 Class 801/2 Azuma (6 in service)
Stations called at53
Stations operated12
National Rail abbreviationGR
Parent companyDfT OLR Holding Limited
London North Eastern
Railway routes
Falkirk Grahamston
Glasgow Central
Edinburgh Waverley
Wakefield Westgate
Newark North Gate
London King's Cross

The company is owned by the Department for Transport (DfT). LNER took over the InterCity East Coast franchise in June 2018, after the previous privately owned operator Virgin Trains East Coast returned it to the government following sustained financial difficulties. The DfT intended for the company to provide services until a new public–private partnership could be established in 2020. In July 2019, it was announced that LNER had been given a direct-award to run services beyond 28 June 2020 until 2025, making it the longest franchise since GNER.[3]


In November 2017, the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, announced the early termination of the InterCity East Coast franchise in 2020, three years ahead of schedule, following losses on the route by operator Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC), who had been due to pay more than £2 billion in franchise premiums to the government over the last four years of its contract.[4][5]

This was brought forward in February 2018 to mid-2018. The Department for Transport (DfT) decided to either negotiate a deal with VTEC to continue to run 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.[6][7][8] On 16 May 2018 it was announced that the latter had been decided and that LNER would take over from VTEC on 24 June 2018.[9][10] The DfT also announced that LNER would be the long-term brand applied to the InterCity East Coast franchise.[11] As part of the overall strategy for the East Coast franchise, the Secretary of State for Transport stated that Great Northern services could potentially be integrated into the operation when the Thameslink Southern & Great Northern franchise expires in 2021.[12]

LNER is the second time that a government appointed operator of last resort has taken control of the InterCity East Coast franchise; between 2009 and 2015 the franchise was operated by East Coast following National Express East Coast defaulting.[13][14]

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.


As of December 2019, the current off-peak service pattern is:[15]

Leeds & West Yorkshire
RoutetphCalling atPeak-time extensions
London King's Cross to Leeds or Harrogate½Peterborough, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate1tpd to Skipton via Keighley
1tpd to Bradford Forster Square via Shipley
1Stevenage, Grantham, Doncaster and Wakefield Westgate
1tp2h extended to Harrogate with 2tpd calling at Horsforth
Lincoln, and Hull & East Yorkshire
RoutetphCalling atPeak-time extensions
London King's Cross to Lincoln or York1Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham and Newark North Gate
1tp2h extended to Lincoln
1tp2h extended to York calling at Retford and Doncaster
1tpd to Hull
North East & Scotland
RoutetphCalling atPeak-time extensions
London King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley1York, Darlington, Newcastle, Berwick-upon-Tweed1tpd to Inverness
1tpd to Stirling
4tpd to Aberdeen (3 from London King's Cross, 1 from Leeds)
1Peterborough, Newark North Gate, Doncaster, York, Northallerton (1tp2h), Darlington, Durham, Newcastle, Alnmouth (1tp2h)
Northallerton and Alnmouth are usually served by alternate trains
1tpd to Glasgow Central
1tpd to Sunderland

An expanded service to Lincoln began on 21 October 2019 when four terminating services at Newark Northgate were extended into Lincoln.[16] 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 5 extra services on a Saturday will begin from 7 December 2019. [17] From December 2019, LNER will introduce a Harrogate to London service 6 times a day.[18] 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.[19][20] The Middlesbrough service is expected to begin in December 2021 after infrastructure work required to run the service is completed.[21]

Future destinations include a proposed service to Middlesbrough, though the Rail Minister, Jo Johnson, told Parliament that it was dependent on the Azuma's being brought into service on the ECML and other schemes in progress that would provide sufficient capacity to enable the service to run.[22] An additional constraint is the lack of a suitably long enough platform at Middlesbrough, which would necessitate a new build at an estimated cost of £20 million.[23]

Named trains

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

NameOriginDestinationOther details
Flying ScotsmanEdinburgh WaverleyLondon King's CrossService 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 ChieftainLondon King's CrossInvernessThe longest LNER route
Northern LightsLondon King's CrossAberdeen
West Riding LimitedBradford Forster SquareLondon King's CrossOperates from Bradford to London only.

Rolling stock

LNER inherited a fleet of InterCity 125 and InterCity 225s from Virgin Trains East Coast. Since September 2016, Virgin Trains East Coast had 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, prior to the entry of Class 800s/801s on the route.

Current fleet

Set  Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number of Units/Sets   Carriages   Notes
 mph   km/h 
Locomotive Hauled Sets
InterCity 225
Class 91 Electric locomotive 140 225 27 26 sets formed of 9 carriages each Four now withdrawn
Mark 4 carriage Passenger carriage 302 (266 in service) Seating Map
Driving Van Trailer Driving Van Trailer 31
Multiple units
Hitachi AT300 Class 800/1 Azuma Bi-Mode multiple unit 140 225 13 (11 in service) 9 Seating Map
Class 800/2 Azuma 10 (8 in service) 5
Class 801/1 Azuma Electric multiple unit 12 (10 in service) 5
Class 801/2 Azuma 30 (6 in service) 9

Past Fleet

With the 'Azuma' trains gradually taking over, it has allowed all fourteen of LNER's HST sets to be withdrawn from service. The last three sets with LNER worked their last services on 15 December 2019.[24] Nine of the fourteen HST sets are being transferred to East Midlands Railway.[25]

Set  Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number of Units/Sets   Carriages   Notes
 mph   km/h 
InterCity 125 Class 43 Diesel locomotive 125 200 32 14 sets formed of 9 carriages each Seating Map
Mark 3 carriage Passenger carriage 130

Future fleet

Since May 2019, the ageing fleet of LNER has been replaced Class 800/Class 801 'Azuma' trains. The first 9-carriage Class 800/1 set entered service for LNER on 15 May 2019.[26] On 16 September 2019, the first two 5-carriage Class 801/1 sets entered service operating as a 10-carriage train.[27] With the new Lincoln services being launched, the first lot of 5-carriage Class 800/2 sets entered service on October 21 2019.[28] Just under a month later, the first two 9-carriage Class 801/2 sets entered service, with one going to Edinburgh and one going to York respectively. This means the whole Azuma class has entered service, but not all units are ready for service yet as of November 2019.[29][30]

In August 2019, LNER revealed its intentions of purchasing more new trains for a planned limited-stop London Kings Cross to Edinburgh service starting in 2021. Originally, LNER and previous franchise holder Virgin Trains East Coast had planned to retain between 6 and 8 InterCity 225 sets but due to the significant amount of rebuilding and refurbishment required to meet modern standards, they have abandoned this idea in favour of new trains.[31]


London North Eastern Railway has four main depots:


  1. "LNER Timetable" (PDF). Notes C and D. p. 4. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  2. Companies House extract company no 4659712 London North Eastern Railway Limited
  3. Nationalisation of East Coast mainline extended until 2025 The Parliamentary Review, 7 July 2019
  4. Elder, Bryce (29 November 2017). "Stagecoach soars after government intervenes on contract". Financial Times. London: Nikkei. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  5. Topham, Gwyn (29 November 2017). "East Coast rail 'bailout' could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions". The Guardian. London: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  6. "Stagecoach to lose East Coast Mainline rail franchise". BBC News. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  7. "Stagecoach East Coast deal to end early". 6 February 2018 via
  8. Virgin Trains East Coast franchise to end within months Railway Gazette International 6 February 2018
  9. "East coast main line trains back in public hands again next month". Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  10. "LNER". Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  11. "Short-term Intercity East Coast train operator 2018 options report" (PDF). May 2018. p. 20 (numbered 16).
  12. East Coast rail update Secretary of State for Transport 16 May 2018
  13. "East Coast rail change confirmed". BBC News Online. 5 November 2009. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  14. "Stagecoach and Virgin win East Coast mainline rail franchise". BBC News. 27 November 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  15. "London North Eastern Railway timetables". Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  16. lner website: 30 August 2019
  17. Pritchard, Robert, ed. (June 2019). "Expanded Lincoln-London service in September". Today's Railways. No. 210. Sheffield: Platform 5. p. 17. ISSN 1475-9713.
  18. New Harrogate-London rail times revealed Harrogate Advertiser; 17 May 2019
  19. LNER begins rollout of azuma trains
  20. Promised improvements to Leeds train services delayed by up to TWO YEARS LeedsLive; 24 April 2019
  21. Modern Railways September 2019 edition p.11
  22. Harris, Nigel, ed. (26 September 2018). "Plan for Azuma's to Middlesbrough". Rail Magazine. No. 862. Peterborough: Bauer Media. p. 21. ISSN 0953-4563.
  23. Johnston, Howard (24 October 2018). "Regional News". Rail Magazine. No. 864. Peterborough: Bauer Media. p. 26. ISSN 0953-4563.
  24. "VIDEO - Fans bid farewell to the iconic InterCity 125 at York". Minster FM. 15 December 2019. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  25. "East Midlands Railway to acquire HS diesel trains from LNER". Business Traveller. Retrieved 16 December 2019.
  26. "Hitachi Azuma Enters Service for LNER". Railway-News. 16 May 2019. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  27. September 16 launch for Class 801 Azumas on London-Leeds route Rail 1 August 2019
  28. 2019-10-21T10:53:00+01:00. "LNER launches Azumas to Lincoln". Railway Gazette International. Retrieved 23 November 2019.
  29. Intercity Rail Travel Presentation Department for Transport 27 June 2011
  30. Britain's Intercity Express Programme reaches financial close International Railway Journal 25 July 2012
  31. More new trains on LNER wish list Rail 8 August 2019

Media related to London North Eastern Railway at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Virgin Trains East Coast
Operator of InterCity East Coast franchise
2018 -
Succeeded by
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