National Express East Coast took over from GNER the operation of inter city train services along the East Coast Main Line in December 2007 through until November 2009. Although this may seem like a short time frame for National Express to operate train services along the route the franchise was originally let until March 2015 however National Express ran into financial difficulties due to ‘overbidding’ for the right to operate services. The franchise became public owned in November 2009 when the Department for Transport operated it through the subsidiary of ‘Directly Operated Railways’ under the trading name of East Coast. It is somewhat ironic that National Express lost the franchise in this manner as it came to operate the franchise through GNER also coming into financial difficulties and defaulting on its franchise commitments.
National Express East Coast operated 11 HST sets and much was unchanged from the GNER era with National Express continuing with the re-engineering project of its power cars, fitting them with MTU power units. The operator ran the same routes as under GNER serving destinations such as Leeds, Edinburgh, Inverness, Aberdeen and Hull from London Kings Cross along with the plan to introduce a service from Lincoln to London Kings Cross. By the end of the franchise all vehicles in the fleet carried National Express Branding.