UK govt to run East Coast rail franchise from Dec

* East Coast line to be run by government from Dec. 12

* Any profit will be returned to the public purse

LONDON, Nov 3 (Reuters) - Britain’s East Coast main line rail franchise, which runs services from London to Edinburgh, will come under public ownership on Dec. 12 and be operated by the government for at least 18 months.

The business, which will be handed back by British bus and rail operator National Express NEX.L after it ran up large losses on the franchise, will be run by the state until mid-2011, according to an internal government briefing obtained by Reuters.

The briefing said profit made by the franchise, which will trade under the brand name East Coast with the same services, will be returned to the public purse while it is in state hands. (Reporting by Rhys Jones; Editing by Dan Lalor)