Rail industry press briefing 2013-36

11th October 2013

  • East Coast returns £208.7 million to taxpayers as revenues soar
  • Transport Minister resigns from government to run for deputy speaker
  • Rail fare rises will be capped at 2% above inflation next year, not 5%
In this issue:

Main stories this week

East Coast has returned £208.7 million to taxpayers as revenues soared, fuelling the debate over plans to return it to private hands. [The Herald]

  • The news triggered calls from Labour for the Government to immediately halt its plans to reprivatise the operator. [The Times]

The Government has been accused of breaking strict Civil Service rules in its rushed appointment of Sir David Higgins to rescue the heavily criticised plans for the £42.7bn High Speed 2 railway. [Independent on Sunday]

  • The Treasury committee has voiced “serious doubts” about whether HS2 would offer the UK value for money. [BBC News]

Transport Minister Simon Burns has resigned from the government to run for the position of deputy Commons Speaker. [BBC News]

Rail fare rises will be capped at 2 per cent above inflation from next year rather than 5 per cent in the first of a series of weekly announcements intended to help with the cost of living. [The Times]

  • The pledge to cap next year’s biggest rail fare increases came under fire when it emerged that some passengers may end up paying more as a result. [Evening Standard]
  • The Mayor of London said that commuters should be allowed to deduct the cost of their season ticket from their pre-tax income. [Daily Telegraph] His full column is available [here].
  • Separately, the Office for Rail Regulation has announced a Marketing Review will be carried out, examining whether current markets are operating efficiently, effectively, and in the best interests of passengers and taxpayers. [Railnews]

New services

Tram testing is due to start in Edinburgh between the depot at Gogar and Edinburgh Park Station. [BBC News]

Crossrail workers were celebrating today as excavation work on its tunnels reached the halfway mark. [Evening Standard]

Other news this week

Virgin Trains is set to spend £3.5 million on a project to refresh its entire fleet of locomotives, in an attempt to finally get rid of the smell coming from lavatories. [The Independent]

A section of the main rail line between Edinburgh and Glasgow will close for more than a month for upgrade work to a tunnel, it has been confirmed. [BBC News]

Financial update

Virgin Trains chief executive Tony Collins and chief operating officer Chris Gibb are leaving the company within a month or so to be replaced by present finance director Phil Whittingham. Chris Gibb will then become a non-executive director of Network Rail. [Railnews]

Britain’s biggest energy supplier Centrica has named former Network Rail head Rick Haythornthwaite as its new chairman. [Daily Telegraph]

National Express has been shortlisted as a potential operator for the Berlin Ringbahn, which is part of the German capital’s suburban network and a broad equivalent of London Overground. It is currently operated by Deutsche Bahn. [Railnews]

MTR, the Hong Kong metro rail company that part operates London Overground, is holding discussions with Beijing about operating two lines in the Chinese capital. [Financial Times]