31st May 2013

  • Network Rail executive bonuses for 2012/13 announced
  • High Speed Two ‘in serious trouble’, says report
  • London Underground faces ‘biggest strike in a generation’


In this issue:

Main stories this week

Network Rail‘s top five executives have been awarded bonuses equivalent to 17% of their annual salaries. [BBC News]

  •  [The Times] says the bonuses come despite even though the maintenance company has missed key performance targets.
  • The decision has prompted criticism from MPs. [Financial Times]
  • The [Daily Mail] describes the reward as a “bonus for failure”.
  • As [Transport Briefing] points out, the bonuses are less than a third of the maximum Network Rail’s directors could have been awarded.

High Speed Two, one of the main policies of the Government, is among nearly 70 projects in serious trouble, according to a report published last Friday. [The Times]

London Underground union leaders today threatened the “biggest strike in a generation” in protest at calls to cut back pensions and free travel benefits. [Evening Standard]

Boris Johnson is facing revolt among members of his own party over plans to bring parts of the London rail network under the control of City Hall. [Financial Times]

  • The chancellor George Osborne has said he is not yet prepared to support a second Crossrail for London, apparently dashing Boris Johnson’s hopes of getting the project off the ground during his mayoralty. [BBC News]

New services

Virgin Trains has promised a major expansion in capacity in time for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. [BBC News]

  • [Transport Briefing] says Virgin Trains reconfigure West Coast Main line services from December 2013 in a move it says will provide an additional 3,300 seats a day for passengers travelling between Scotland and Birmingham.
  • There is also a proposal for the first non-stop train service between Glasgow and London since the 1930s, which would cut the journey time to under four hours, [The Scotsman] says.

A new £130m rail route between Oxford and London Marylebone is to go ahead after a bid to stop the project was turned down by the High Court. [BBC News]

An extension to the Metrolink system in Greater Manchester has opened to passengers three months early. [BBC News]

A £7m railway station has opened in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire. [BBC News]

Wales must not receive “hand-me-down” trains from around the UK when the railway between Swansea and London is electrified, Plaid Cymru has said. [BBC News]

Other stories this week

Long-running plans to convert the St Albans Abbey branch line into a light rail system have been dropped by the Department for Transport. [Transport Briefing]

The German national rail network Deutsche Bahn has unveiled potentially controversial plans to use silent mini spy drones to track down and arrest graffiti sprayers who cost the company an estimated €7 million a year in cleaning fees. [The Independent]

Company news

Shares in transport company FirstGroup plunged 20% on 20 May after it announced a £615m rights issue in a bid to reduce its debt and said profit had plummeted. [BBC News]

  • [The Times] said FirstGroup had admitted defeat and begged its shareholders for help.
  • Martin Gilbert, the FirstGroup chairman who decided to step down at the same time, told the [Financial Times] came after “investor pressure for him to quit had become overwhelming”.
  • [The same paper] added FirstGroup faces possible exclusion from future rail bids, should it lose its investment grade credit rating.
  • Chief executive Tim O’Toole was told by Martin Gilbert to carry on despite offering his resignation. [The Guardian]

Investor confidence in UK rail franchising is badly damaged and industry and government must work together to fix it, Stagecoach‘s new chief executive Martin Griffiths has told the [Financial Times]