Welcome tour an ad-hoc review of what's happening on the railways, produced from information we receive. We hope that you will find the information of interest.
East Coast franchise to be re-let early
The Government has announced that the East Coast rail franchise, currently operated by Stagecoach and Virgin, is to be re-let under a new model franchise. The plan is to package track and trains under one brand. The proposal is based on the ‘Alliance’ model currently operated in Scotland.
The joint operation is also being planned for the new South Eastern franchise, for which the Invitation to Tender was published last month.
Stagecoach and Virgin secured the East Coast Main Line operation in March 2015 in a franchise which was due to run until 2023. However, the operator has been in discussions with the DfT due to its business plan being compromised by delays infrastructure upgrades on the route. A new deal for could be running trains on the route, through a track and trains partnership, could be in place from 2020.
Great Western to be split
The Government’s recently announced plans for rail franchising includes splitting up the Great Western Railway franchise. The regional operations in the South West would be split off.
Second HST for Scotland
The second HST set being transferred from Great Western to ScotRail has been transferred. ScotRail plans to start HST services, initially on the Edinburgh-Aberdeen route, from May next year.
RMT calls strikes at Virgin West Coast
Rail Union RMT has called a series of strikes at Virgin Trains West Coast over a pay claim. The RMT is demanding a suitable equal offer for its members to that received by drivers. Virgin Trains says it expects to operate the majority of services on strike days that have been announced on December 15th and 22nd and January 5th, 8th, 26th and 29th.
In a separate dispute, the RMT is balloting its members at Virgin Trains East Coast over changes to sick pay arrangements.
CrossCountry strikes continue
Train Managers and Senior Conductors at CrossCountry, who are members of rail union RMT, have staged to strikes on Sundays over what the union claims are abuses of rostering and Sunday working. Steven Knight Media understands that Sunday working is voluntary and not enough are volunteering to work to enable a full service to be provided.
The RMT has already called stoppages on November 19th and 26th with others planned for December 9th and 10th, 24th and 31st.
East Midlands Trains to get more HSTs
Three HST sets from Grand Central Trains are due to transfer to East Midlands Trains next year. Once in service they will allow the re-deployment of Class 222 Meridians and Class 158s.
Steven Knight is a Transport Specialist who has over 40 years experience in the bus and rail industries as well as in specialist transport journalism. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.