GNER has unveiled its partnership to deliver the £2 billion upgrade of the East Coast Main Line, Britain's flagship rail route between London and Scotland.

The ECML modernisation forms part of the York-based train operator's bid for a new 20-year franchise, creating much-needed extra capacity for passenger and freight train operators.

The company has teamed up with Fluor, Hochtief, Shepherd, Arup and Jarvis as part of a proposed joint venture with the Strategic Rail Authority and Railtrack to develop and deliver this scheme.

The upgrade will allow passenger trains to run more frequently and faster and will assist the transfer of large volumes of freight from the road network to an enlarged railway freight system.

The alliance, which has been developed over several months, was confirmed with the SRA in April as part of the ongoing East Coast franchise bidding process and in response to Railtrack's inability to take a lead role in the funding and delivery of future stages of the long-awaited ECML upgrade, as originally envisaged.

GNER's chief executive Christopher Garnett said: "This unrivalled union, based on a common vision, brings together substantial engineering expertise and commercial strength to deliver this important project and herald an exciting new future for rail passengers."

Updated: 10:30 Wednesday, May 30, 2001