RAIL passengers have welcomed news that operator GNER has retained the East Coast mainline franchise.

The company was confirmed yesterday as the operator for the next decade on the line linking West Yorkshire with London.

The East Coast Passengers' Panel welcomed the announcement which ends a period of uncertainty.

A spokesman said: "The RPC will use its best endeavours to ensure that the ordinary passenger is not priced off the railway in the efforts to maximise the return to Government.

"The Panel will be consulted on the passengers' charter, the code of practice for handling of complaints and the disabled persons protection policy and will use its influence to achieve the best it can for the passenger."

The franchise deal was also welcomed by another train operator.

Grand Central Railway Company Ltd, which wants to runs services from Brighouse and other parts of Yorkshire to London, said it was good news.

Managing director Ian Yeowart said: "GNER creates a benchmark in terms of service quality and delivery, which we will be seeking to match with our proposed services from Sunderland to London and from Bradford and Halifax to London".