23rd July 2012In this issue:
Industry developments this week
FirstGroup has emerged as a frontrunner for the multibillion-pound west coast rail franchise alongside incumbent Virgin Trains, with the contest now a two-horse race between the experienced operators. The Guardian
- The First Great Western franchise may be extended to next summer because of government delays in issuing tender documents. The Guardian
- East Midlands Trains has been given £46m of taxpayers’ money to make the company profitable again. BBC News
Transport Secretary Justine Greening has admitted 400 consultation submissions were mislaid and not taken into account before High Speed 2 was approved. The Sunday Times
- Justine Greening made a pitch to stay on as Transport Secretary after being tipped for a move in the expected September cabinet reshuffle because of her opposition to a third runway at Heathrow. Evening Standard
- Separately, the Government is planning to underwrite borrowing to finance transport infrastructure projects. Transport Briefing
Network Rail members voted overwhelmingly to approve bonuses for its senior executives including Robin Gisby and Patrick Butcher, provoking fresh anger from unions, reports The Herald.
- Under the headline “That’s a nice little earner!”, the Daily Mail says the bonuses were granted just to stop the executives being poached.
- Chief Executive David Higgins said he expected Network Rail to be producing a rebate of £340m for the UK and Scottish governments by 2014. Rail.co
The Office of Rail Regulation has launched a consultation on proposals aimed at formalising the Rail Delivery Group, the rail leadership body established in June 2011. Transport Briefing
New rail services
Tilting train trials have revealed travelling by train from Edinburgh to London could take little more than three hours. The Herald
The Financial Times said the government’s £9.4bn rail upgrade announcement “had a familiar ring” because much of the projects had been already been announced.
- BBC News provided details of the announcement.
Ahead of the Olympics, an opinion piece in The Guardian says the view of crowd control being driven by a fear of panic and selfish behaviour is out of date and that communication is key.
First Capital Connect has been criticised for producing an Olympics security poster which reads as “gibberish” in Arabic. BBC News
Transport for London has denied trialling driverless trains after a union accused it of a “secret agenda” to introduce the technology. BBC News
Finance, business and sharecheck
National Express has revealed that it is on the shortlist to operate a regional train business in Germany. The Times
- The Fitch credit ratings agency announced it had adjusted a National Express grade to BBB-, to reflect its leading position in some transport sectors and diversified earnings. Reuters
Stagecoach has announced a slight fall in full year profits falling 1.5% in the year to April to £202.5m, on revenues that increased by 8.4% to reach £2.59bn. Transport Briefing
- Stagecoach’s Brian Souter has told The Times he hopes his company’s Megabus operation in the US will mitigate slumping profits at East Midlands Trains and Virgin Trains.
- Stagecoach last month announced a final dividend to shareholders. Reuters