6th August 2012In this issue:
Industry developments this week
Speculation continued around FirstGroup’s bid for the West Coast mainline franchise, which is rumoured to be 15-20% higher than that of incumbent Virgin Trains. The announcement is expected next Monday, 13 August.
- Richard Branson has written to the Transport Secretary, copying in David Cameron, to say FirstGroup can only justify its bid by “drastically” cutting the quality of services. Daily Telegraph
- Chancellor George Osborne has reportedly told transport ministers to “maximise proceeds” from this and other rail franchise bids, so as to secure High Speed 2. Daily Telegraph
- Rail analysts have warned that a successful FirstGroup bid could be “a double-edged sword”. Scotland on Sunday
- Virgin’s joint venture with Stagecoach could be retained in the event of a loss, says the Financial Times, to bid for the East Coast mainline franchise.
- The Daily Telegraph’s Alistair Osborne offers a summary of the process so far, including the speculated bids tabled by Abellio and Keolis, both thought to be out of the running.
National Express’s Dean Finch has been handed a “huge pay rise” to stop him defecting to FirstGroup. Both companies denied the move. The Sunday Times
- The Daily Telegraph says Finch’s £550,000 bonus comes after it was decided he was hired “on the cheap”.
New rail services
Weekday East Coast services could be further reduced under Government plans. The Journal
London’s transport system coped well with huge crowds this past weekend, one of the busiest of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Press Association
- Rail records tumble as the Games effect is felt. Transport Briefing
c2c has set a new UK record for train punctuality in the past year, with 97.1 per cent of services arriving at stations on time. Rail.co
Concerns have been expressed about the impact of raising the costs for freight to use the UK railway network. Grimsby Telegraph
Plans for a new fleet of Thameslink trains, controversially awarded to German firm Siemens, faces further delay. Daily Mirror
Finance, business and sharecheck
National Express has seen its rail profits fall by 43 per cent following the loss of the East Anglia franchise. Rail.co
- But the transport group said a “reassuringly stable” performance in Spain had helped it maintain steady trading in the period, reports the Financial Times
- Rosie Jacobs in the same paper describes National Express as being “on the right track”.
Shares in Eurotunnel fell almost 6 per cent after the operator of the Channel tunnel said half-year operating profits had sunk in spite of a strong surge in revenues. Financial Times