Rail industry press briefing 2013-30

30th August 2013

  • Government publicity campaign after more calls to abandon HS2
  • Stephen Hammond DB Schenker hospitality allegations
  • Network Rail punctuality falls, adding to performance concerns
In this issue:

High Speed 2

The Institute of Directors has called on the government to abandon its controversial high-speed rail project. [BBC News]

  • [The Guardian] quotes the influential business group as describing the project as “grand folly”.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party has announced plans to impose a £50bn cap on the project. [Sunday Times]

  • [The Independent] described the move from the party as a threat to withdraw support for HS2.
  • But former transport secretary Lord Adonis warned abandoning support would be an “act of national self-mutilation”, as doubts grew about the project’s future. [The Observer]
  • And the chief executive of High Speed 2 has said she believes Labour is still strongly supportive of the scheme. [BBC News]

Chancellor George Osborne is to kick off a campaign this weekend that will see cabinet ministers rally around the scheme. [Financial Times]

  • [The Economist] argues congestion is not a clinching argument for super-fast rail.
  • The [Financial Times] ran a Q&A segment on whether HS2 would solve UK’s rail capacity crunch.

Also this week

Transport minister Stephen Hammond was “wined and dined” by DB Schenker months before his appointment to the Department for Transport, the [Daily Mirror] has found.

Network Rail punctuality has fallen, according to its latest figures, adding to concerns about its performance. [Financial Times]

  • It comes as ATOC figures show Britain’s railways are back in the black for the first time since privatisation was set in motion 20 years ago. [Daily Telegraph]
  • Virgin Trains has asked the Office of Rail Regulation to abandon plans for enforced 90 percent punctuality by the end of 2019. [Global Rail News]

Other news

First Great Western is to increase the price of many advance tickets by £11.11 per cent from next month, the [Evening Standard] can reveal.

  • [This is Money] also has the story, quoting TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes.

A senior Conservative today warned Londoners faced more strikes on the transport network after plans progressed for a merger between TSSA and the Unite union. [Evening Standard]

  • London Overground guards held a 48-hour strike covering the two-day Notting Hill Carnival last weekend in action called by the RMT union. [BBC News]
  • Unions raised safety concerns after passengers spoke of thinking they would die when smoke filled a London Underground train in Holland Park. [BBC News]

The boss of Crossrail has warned Britain’s construction and engineering industries need more big projects if they are to stay “right at the top of their game”. [Daily Telegraph]

Plans have been unveiled for a viewing platform at the top of the Forth Bridge to give visitors a “close-up” look at one of Scotland’s most famous sights. [BBC News]

Passengers on a rush-hour Southeastern train were led to safety after smoke was reported underneath the rear four carriages. [The Guardian]

Company news

Stagecoach shares are strongly up after growth at Megabus in North America helped put the company on track to meet its targets for the year. [Financial Times]

Serco shares are down after it said it was working with Britain’s government to fix any wrongdoing that is discovered from a raft of reviews into its contracts. [4-Traders]