HOLYROOD should have a say in the organisation of the East Coast Main Line as the UK Government takes it back into public hands, Humza Yousaf has said.

The Transport Minister has called for assurances that services for Scottish passengers will not be on the line as a result of the Westminster decision, which was announced by his UK counterpart Chris Grayling yesterday.

Services will be brought under public control from June 24 in a temporary measure prompted by the termination of the franchise agreement with Virgin Trains East Coast, which is 90 per cent owned by Scottish transport giant Stagecoach.

The organisation is the third private operator to fail to complete its £3.3 billion contract on the Edinburgh-London route in recent years, following GNER and National Express.

A new public-private partnership named East Coast Partnership will take over from 2020.

Responding, Yousaf said the Scottish Government should be involved in the set up of the new board which will oversee the publicly run services.

These will be handled by an operator of last resort (OLR) named London North Eastern Railway (LNER) under the control of the Department for Transport (DfT).

Yousaf said: “Given the importance of East Coast services to Scotland, we will press the UK Government for involvement in the new LNER board. We will also require assurance that there will be no reduction in service levels for Scottish passengers, and that promised improvements to Scottish East Coast services will still be delivered without further delay.

“Trade unions’ concerns must also be listened to and an assurance given that new arrangements will not negatively affect jobs, terms and conditions.”

Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths said the Perth-based firm was “surprised and disappointed” by the decision as it believed it offered a “positive, value-for-money way forward for passengers, taxpayers and local communities”.