27th January 2012In this issue:
Industry developments this week
The four companies bidding for the West Coast Main Line franchise were asked to submit a cost-cutting programme this week. Financial Times
- The competition pitches two UKcompanies – FirstGroup and incumbent operator Virgin Trains, a joint venture between Virgin Group and Stagecoach – against two subsidiaries of foreign state rail groups: Keolis, part of SNCF in France, and Abellio, an arm of Nederlandse Spoorwegen, the Dutch operator.
- Transport Briefing has greater detail on the franchise specifications, which include ITSO compliance and slightly relaxed timetables.
The Home Secretary has announced a ban on cash payments for scrap metal, including copper cables used by railway signalling systems, and increase penalties for metal theft. Transport Briefing
- It follows a similar recommendation from the Commons Transport Committee earlier in the week. The Guardian
- Network Rail paid TOCs £12 million in cable-theft compensation last year, but ATOC declined to reveal how much had passed to passengers. The Transport Committee said train operators must demonstrate they are not profiting from the disruption. Daily Telegraph
Abelliois to take over the Greater Anglia franchise from National Express on 5 February.
- The new managing director will be Ruud Haket, while Adam Golton stays on from National Express as finance director. Railway Eye
- Rail.co provides details on Abellio’s plans for the 29-month franchise.
Network Rail plans to form alliances with Greater Anglia, c2c, ScotRail, Northern and Southeastern to deliver passenger benefits more quickly. Rail.co
- The Financial Times describes the “deep alliance” between Network Rail and South West Trains as the biggest step towards integrated running of track and trains since the British Rail privatisation.
- The alliance with Northern Rail was welcomed by managing director Ian Bevan. Rail.co
There were further developments following the Government’s approval of High Speed Two (HS2):
- The Scottish government called on Westminster to commit to extending HS2 to Glasgow and Edinburgh, offering to pick up half the extra £17bn bill. Financial Times
- Scotland’s Infrastructure Secretary Alex Neil told the Daily Record work atScotland’s end of the line could begin before the English leg is complete.
- HS2 Ltd advertised for top roles, including a chief executive and a chairman roles. Transport Briefing
- Campaigners against HS2 are to seek a judicial review of the government’s decision to approve the scheme. BBC News
Other stories in the press
Virgin Trains is unable to run its newest train carriages alongside each other because of “eye-watering” insurance premiums. Private Eye
The Office of Rail Regulation may have failed ahead of the 2007 Grayrigg accident to ensure the rail industry had appropriate health and safety measures in place. Private Eye
Docklands Light Railway has agreed a 25% increase in the standard overtime rate for employees working during the Olympics. Evening Standard UK rail users are increasingly unhappy with the cost of their journeys as fares rise faster than salaries, Passenger Focus has found. Financial Times
London TravelWatch says Transport for London has not kept its promise of a visible staff presence at barriers in Tube stations after ticket office hours. BBC News
Ken Livingstone said he would bring all suburban train services under TfL control and the London Overground brand if he is elected in May. BBC News
First Capital Connect donates bicycles to charity – but not out of generosity. Private Eye
Holding group sharecheck
Shares in Stagecoach dropped significantly at the beginning of October after the group decided to pay out a £340m dividend to its shareholders and lost a proporition of its value as a consequence. They rallied in early December after the group declared an interim dividend.
FirstGroup shares ralied in early November on the publication of its latest results.
Shares in the Go-Ahead Group rose by almost 5 per cent after itraised full-year operating profit forecasts on the back of strong passenger growth at its rail franchises.