Issue 14/2013

5th April 2013

  • Rail investors unconvinced by new franchising timetable
  • Operators drop Great Western legal action
  • Caledonian Sleeper franchise advertised
In this issue:

New franchising timetable announced

After the Department for Transport announced an amended timetable for rail franchising, the [Financial Times] writes that investors continue to believe the process is “amateurish” and a “shambles”. [Financial Times]

There was plenty of commentary on the new franchising timetable over the Easter weekend:

  • [Railway Eye] notes it will not just be “long suffering Kentish commuters” infuriated by Southeastern’s extension to 2017, but also Boris Johnson’s Transport for London, which was planning to turn some routes into a concession.
  •  [The Observer] laments the privatisation of East Coast, being a profitable franchise under public ownership.

In other franchising developments:

  • Transport Scotland has begun procurement for the new Caledonian Sleeper rail franchise which is estimated to be worth £375m over the full 16 year term. [Transport Briefing]
  • The DfT’s plans were welcomed by holding groups [Go Ahead] and [Stagecoach], with Virgin indicating it was planning to bid for the East Coast franchise [The Herald].
  • Operators dropped legal action against the Government over the aborted Great Western franchise following the announcement. [The Times]

New services

Eurostar is reconsidering plans to serve new destinations, including Amsterdam, Cologne and Geneva, in 2015 due to the likelihood of track access charges remaining costly and unpredictable. [Transport Briefing]

[Private Eye] argues the future transport crunch for London goes beyond building Crossrail 2 and that the future crowds at Euston and Farringdon are being ignored.

Work on the Northern line’s extension to Battersea will begin in 2015, Boris Johnson has confirmed. [Metro]

Other news

The Office of Rail Regulation has been handed powers for procedures concerning passenger complaints and disabled people, but not over train service performance or franchise requirements, as a former transport minister wanted. [Transport Briefing]

Some Scottish rail fares will be cut by 41 per cent this month as ministers seek to fix flaws in the ticketing system. []

French rail freight operator Fret SNCF is offering staff a reward if they can find around 150 (apparently empty) rail wagons that have gone missing over the past decade. [Railway Eye]

The ambitions behind rail privatisation have been “betrayed” by successive governments over the past two decades, according to an influential centre-right think-tank that was co-founded by Margaret Thatcher. [The Independent]

  • The Centre for Policy Studies has called for more open-access operators to be introduced. [The Times]

Company and people news

A group of senior directors at Stobart Group have reversed January’s investor-led boardroom coup by axing the transport company’s executive chairman after only two months in the job. [Financial Times]

Elaine Holt – formerly of First Capital Connect, East Coast and National Express – has emerged has the UK rail franchise director for Ratp Dev, which is planning a Crossrail bid. [Railway Eye]

The UK competition watchdog has signalled it could back down from forcing Eurotunnel to reverse its move into the cross-Channel ferry business after acknowledging that its preferred remedy would prove complex. [Financial Times]