Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

Round round baby, round round

Posted in Business, Great Britain, Politics by Chairman Pip on 24 March 2011

An announcement today from the DfT to tell us who the prequalified bidders are for the two franchises that are coming up, the West Coast (Virgin Trains) and the Greater Anglia (NXEA). However, while the West Coast franchise is intended to run for at least ten years, with the plan that its expiry coincides with the opening of the first stage of High Speed 2, the new Greater Anglia franchise will run for just 18 months while the Government comes up with solid plans for its reform of the franchise system. While this is not be such a bad thing in and of itself, the fact that National Express, the current franchise holder, is not included among the bidders is laughable. Any new franchise holder will want to bring in its own branding, a process that will probably take around two years to complete in full. Additionally, the fact that it is only going to last 18 months puts whoever does win the franchise in pole position for the new long one that will come up sometime in 2013 (I think). Why hasn’t the government simply put in place a management contract, similar to the one the previous government gave to GNER, so that they can let National Express run the service until the due date of the new long franchise. This gives prospective bidders more time to thoroughly prepare their bids, rather than almost immediately starting again with the process, which is what will happen with this half-baked scheme. What I guess is all the more galling is that The Roads Man was a recipiant this week of NXEA’s hospitality when they commissioned the first of their brand new Class 379 into passenger service, posing happily for pictures with the MD of NXEA, Andrew Chivers, all smiles with no hint of what was to be announced just a couple of days later.

Incidentally, for those of you that are interested, the prequalified bidders are:

So aside from SNCF, that’s pretty much the usual suspects yet again. FirstGroup operate three franchises and one open access operator; Abellio part owns two franchises; Go-Ahead is a partner in Govia, which has three franchises; while Stagecoach has control of another two in addition to its 49% stake in Virgin. Round and round we go.

“Virgin faces stern test on Scotland trains”
“National Express demands explanation for Anglia snub”

The Roads Man Giveth. And The Roads Man Taketh Away. Blessed is the name of The Roads Man (or not as the case may be)


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