The government invited private companies to bid for the East Coast Main Line rail franchise, which operates through Lincolnshire, after it has been run in the public sector since 2009.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced the start of the competition for the franchise on Tuesday, which is expected to carry its first passengers by February 2015.
The Transport Secretary said: “Franchising has been a force for good in the story of Britain’s railways, transforming an industry that was in decline into one that today carries record numbers of passengers.”
The electrification of the Midland main line is also planned, which should deliver more services across the East Midlands and Yorkshire including Sheffield, Derby and Nottingham.
A total of 10 of the country’s 16 rail franchises are due for renewal before the general election in 2015.
The general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, Frances O’Grady, said: “This decision defies all logic. Since returning to public ownership the East Coast Main Line has flourished with passenger numbers and customer satisfaction increasing and all profits re-invested back into improving the service.”
Labour also criticised the move. Lincoln Labour MP candidate Lucy Rigby tweeted: “The government seems bit more preoccupied with politics than quality of service or taxpayers’ money, especially after West Coast mess, which cost taxpayer millions.”
In a column for The Lincolnite on Wednesday, Lucy Rigby argued Lincoln needs a far better rail deal as soon as possible.