East Coast: Anger as Yorkshire rail dining is axed

National Express East Coast supplied picture showing passengers enjoying the new menu in the restaurant car. Train operator National Express East Coast is launching a brand new on-train catering service.

National Express East Coast supplied picture showing passengers enjoying the new menu in the restaurant car. Train operator National Express East Coast is launching a brand new on-train catering service.

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MPS have hit out at a decision to scrap the traditional restaurant car service on East Coast trains from Leeds to London and Edinburgh.

Publicly-owned East Coast trains is axing its restaurant car service, the oldest in the UK, in May as part of an overhaul of onboard facilities costing almost £10 million.

The company says it wants to avoid a repeat of the multi-million-pound catering losses the route’s previous operators, National Express East Coast, suffered before walking away from its franchise in 2009.

But the step has angered Halifax Labour MP Linda Riordan, who has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament.

The motion, signed by six MPs, states that a restaurant car meal “enhanced the passenger experience on long distance journeys” and claims that their removal shows that train operators “put profit before passenger comfort”.

The motion also “calls on East Coast to reverse the decision to remove restaurant car facilities from its services and for the Government to explore how restaurant cars can be re-introduced on our railways.”

Ms Riordan, who believes dozens of jobs will also be lost because of the decision, said: “My main concern is for the job losses but I am also concerned for passengers travelling up and down - not just to Yorkshire but further to Scotland - who will not be able to get a meal.

“It’s excellent food and excellent service and it passes the time on the train.

“East Coast is in public ownership, so there is no reason why ministers cannot take notice of this EDM.”

Under the changes, first-class passengers will be served hot breakfasts in their seats before 10am, dinner between 4pm and 7pm, and sandwiches and salads at other times.

First-class passengers will also receive complimentary alcohol and soft drinks on weekdays and an all-day light menu at weekends.

On Monday, East Coast announced a new timetable, which it says will provide more than three million extra seats a year on the route.

The timetable, which starts on May 22, is the biggest change in the route for 20 years and includes a train every 30 minutes between Leeds and London King’s Cross.

mark.hookham@ypn.co.uk

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