Issue 02/2013

11th January 2013

  • DfT’s Brown Review recommends shorter rail franchises, better staffing and an announcement on frozen franchises by February.
  • Daily Telegraph follows rail minister Simon Burns on his first train journey to work.
  • DfT says Clare Moriarty’s appointment is only the beginning of staffing changes at department.
In this issue:

Main stories this week

Eurostar chairman Richard Brown‘s report into the rail franchising system was covered in the press this week.

  • The [Financial Times] says the report describes the West Coast mainline as the product of a depleted Department for Transport rather than fundamental problems with the rail franchising system.
  • It calls for shorter franchises and clearer guidelines on how much capital is required from bidders, says the [Daily Telegraph]
  • However, it says the rail franchising system is not broken and should be restarted urgently, with a beefed-up DfT team, reports [The Guardian]
  • Brown said an announcement on the Great Western, Essex Thameside and Thameslink franchises must be made by next month. [The Times]
  • PTEG, a group representing local passenger transport executives, welcomed the report for encouraging further rail devolution akin to London Overground. [Press release]

Rail minister Simon Burns was followed by the [Daily Telegraph] on his morning commute by train, which he began after it emerged he was travelling to work in government car from Essex.

  • The [Evening Standard] has the story from earlier in the week under the headline ‘Minister lets car take the strain’.

Permanent secretary Philip Rutnam, appearing again before the Commons Transport committee, described Clare Moriarty’s appointment as DfT director of rail as “very much a first step” ahead of further staff changes. [Transport Briefing]

New rail services

Serco’s contract to run the Docklands Light Railway has been extended by 18 months to September 2014. [Transport Briefing]

Arriva is pressing the Office for Rail Regulation to allow it to launch open access services on the west coast mainline. [The Times]

Other stories this week

Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds emerge as the big winners from the Y-shaped High Speed 2 network that will see trains travelling at 225mph on two separate lines from Birmingham. [Sunday Times]

  • Writing in the [Sunday Telegraph], former cabinet minister Cheryl Gillan described High Speed 2 as “a cancer that will cost our country dear”.
  • A judicial review hearing on High Speed 2 has forced the government to admit that Virgin’s peak trains out of London are almost half-empty. [Private Eye]

Network Rail has priced running and improving Britain’s rail network from 2014 to 2019 at £37.5bn, a cost to be funded from a combination of above-inflation fare rises, shrinking government subsidies and debt. [Financial Times]

Clouds of steam and smoke will once again fill Baker Street station as London Underground, the world’s first underground railway, launches a year-long celebration of its 150th anniversary this week. [Financial Times]

  • The newspaper’s [Lex column] describes London Underground as “a model of how infrastructure projects should be owned, operated and financed”.

Another calendar year has passed without trains being ordered for Thameslink 2000, but “DafT” still reckons it is doing well. [Private Eye]

Financial update and sharecheck

Bookings surged for National Express coach services in December following widespread threats of strike action. [Bus and Coach] The group is due to publish its annual results in February.

Stagecoach has increased profits in the last six months to December, citing good revenue growth in its UK rail division. []

FirstGroup executives have been rattled not just by the loss of the InterCity West Coast franchise but by its bus operations, says [Private Eye]. FirstGroup shares fell by more than a quarter after the franchise process was subsequently cancelled in late September.

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