Rail industry press briefing 2013-40

8th November 2013

  • Shortlisted ScotRail bidders announced
  • High Speed 2 backers defend budget
  • But critics say costs are ‘made up’
In this issue:

Main stories this week

AbellioArrivaFirstGroupMTR and National Express have all been shortlisted to run the next ScotRail franchise starting in 2015. [BBC News]

KPMG have defended their report backing High Speed 2 in an appearance before the Treasury Select Committee [Financial Times]

  • It comes as leading academics told the committee the figures to justify the budget were “essentially made up” [Daily Telegraph]
  • HS2 chairman-to-be David Higgins has said costs could fall by at least 10 per cent if the new head of the project delivers on fresh cost-cutting targets. [Financial Times]
  • Ministers have asked officials to examine a Scottish extension [Daily Mail]
  • Construction firms in the West Midlands have said it is vital they get their share of work on the project. [BBC News]

New services

Virgin Trains has submitted a renewed bid to run direct rail services between Shropshire and London. [BBC News]

The first rails have been laid on a £127m project that will see trams return to Birmingham city centre. [BBC News]

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has unveiled £550million upgrade of Greater Anglia services announced this week. [East Anglia Daily Times]

A new rail line through Manchester city centre is set to unlock the development of a string of new office blocks. [Manchester Evening News]

Other news

Network Rail should close 500 of the most dangerous level crossings over the next five years under a £109 million closure programme announced by the rail regulator. [The Times]

Labour and SNP MSPs clashed in a heated debate in the Scottish Parliament over failed Glasgow rail link, four years after the project was cancelled. [Evening Times]

First Capital Connect‘s 23.02 from St Pancras to Bedford was spotted by passengers as running a ‘trifling’ 1,387 minutes late. [Daily Telegraph]

Companies and finance

FirstGroup has begun to stem its losses, raising hopes that its recovery is taking hold after a year in which a painful £615m rights issue sent its shares plunging. [Financial Times]

Shares in Alstom jumped after the French industrial bellwether announced it would cut 1,300 jobs in an attempt to boost competitiveness and offset the effect of weaker markets. [Financial Times]