Avanti and XC Salaries

GreenBell

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I'm sure it's probably been discussed before but I can't find any thread about it.

Out of all of the TOC's in the midlands Avanti and XC have driver salaries almost £10k higher than all of the others.

Can anyone working for TOC's in that area explain why those two companies pay so much more? As an outsider I think I can see how it is justified at Avanti, with the high speed routes and traction that they sign, but I'm struggling to see why XC pays the same. Is working at XC really that much more demanding that say Chiltern, LNWR or EMR?

I'm guessing it all comes down to the terms, so can anyone tell me what kind of terms XC have that might account for the pay gap?
 
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Starmill

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Isn't it primarily so that they can poach qualified drivers? This avoids the costs of them setting up their own training schools, except for one-offs. Arguments are also put forward that their work is better suited to experienced drivers who are some years out from the training school, although I don't know if that's really true. In the case of Avanti West Coast, pre-Coronavirus certainly they were very deep-pocketed in terms of playing the market, compared with the franchises on a net subsidy who couldn't increase spending as much. There's also an element of 'prestige' to them.
 

Stigy

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Probably T&Cs have a lot to do with it. I’m not sure on the specifics, but some TOCs may have sold some of the decent conditions other TOCs have for a higher salary.
 

GreenBell

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Isn't it primarily so that they can poach qualified drivers? This avoids the costs of them setting up their own training schools, except for one-offs. Arguments are also put forward that their work is better suited to experienced drivers who are some years out from the training school, although I don't know if that's really true. In the case of Avanti West Coast, pre-Coronavirus certainly they were very deep-pocketed in terms of playing the market, compared with the franchises on a net subsidy who couldn't increase spending as much. There's also an element of 'prestige' to them.
Yeah I assumed it would be something like that, but they've both just advertised trainee driver roles too. I was just wondering whether there is actually a constant flow of drivers leaving the likes of WMT etc.. to go over to XC or whether there's reasons why that isn't happening. :?:
 

Neptune

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A whacking payrise generally means an erosion of terms and conditions. I’d rather have the T&C’s thankyou. I’m happy to live within the means of a conductor as it is still more than a lot of people with more demanding jobs are paid.
 

Efini92

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In a nut shell it all goes back to the beginning of “privatisation” Branson took all the top link men for his intercity franchises. Most were at or nearing retirement age so soon they would have no drivers. So he upped the salary to attract more drivers.
Obviously there’s a lot more to it, but that’s the gist.
 

Economist

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My understanding of the situation is as follows:

Avanti - Lots of conditions were apparently sold to take the salary as high as it is, all depots except Polmadie have four 5 day weeks and then a week of rest days (adds up to an average 4 day week), with committed Sundays this can mean working 6 days on the bounce. Sundays are flat rate, though I believe there's a booking on fee since it's overtime. I think they also have potentially big movements from booked starting time if getting a booked job from a spare turn, plus some lodging. They had a history of poaching drivers and very rarely recruited trainees, though I've heard that the DfT have told them they need to train more in-house.

Cross Country - I don't know so much about terms and conditions except that Sundays are committed and they haven't (again until recently, probably under DfT pressure) trained many people at all, historically they preferred to poach. Bear in mind that a lot of their drivers were ex-Virgin Cross Country already on high salaries. May have lodging turns as well, not totally sure.

WMT/LNWR - Sundays totally outside with certainly what was a hefty premium, London Midland tried to take the premium away and couldn't run any Sunday services for a long time as a result. Apparently there's also a lot of ex-BR terms and conditions, which has kept a lot of senior drivers from going to Avanti/Cross Country. BR terms sometimes carry cash enhancements that other companies have consolidated (depending on the specific terms). At another TOC, I believe at least two London suburban depots also with Sundays totally outside have lots of old BR financial enhancements.

Chiltern - Sundays totally outside again, I believe that historically the management culture was very good (most management were ex-BR) and turnover was minimal. They seem to be recruiting more often now, the reason for which I don't know. The only company out of the four to have any DOO work.

EMR - I don't know how out of date the ASLEF figure is because I saw a quoted figure on here that was considerably higher than the amount quoted on the Company Information pages. Newer drivers have Sundays inside, I don't know much about T&Cs.

If Chiltern and WMT sold Sundays to either make them committed or fully inside, I wouldn't be surprised if they got a salary at or near Avanti/Cross Country. GTR TL/GN showed us what the going rate is to commit to a given number of Sundays and I don't see a good DCC accepting much less.

Most of the above is gathered from what I have heard or seen (some of ti on here) and some of it may well be wrong but it's simply the understanding I have.
 

lammergeier

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In a nut shell it all goes back to the beginning of “privatisation” Branson took all the top link men for his intercity franchises. Most were at or nearing retirement age so soon they would have no drivers. So he upped the salary to attract more drivers.
Obviously there’s a lot more to it, but that’s the gist.
Pretty much correct. A lot of assumptions are made, including on this thread, about T's & C's at XC. They are invariably incorrect. Terms are good at XC.
 

Unstoppable

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Would YOU want to drive Aberdeen to Penzance without a pay rise? (Joke!)
No one drives Aberdeen - Penzance. Example being on the Aberdeen - Penzance you are looking at something down the lines of driver 1 Aberdeen - Edinburgh, driver 2 Edinburgh - Leeds (varies some get relief at Newcastle) driver 3 Leeds - Birmingham, driver 4 Birmingham - Exeter/Plymouth, driver 5 Exeter/Plymouth - Penzance. The drivers don't traverse very far. An Edinburgh driver for example would drive Edinburgh to Aberdeen or Glasgow/Edinburgh - Newcastle/Leeds with diversionary routes in between such as Cathcart/Bellshill, Edinburgh Suburban and the bridge in Newcastle. Unsure if Edinburgh would sign Doncaster as well in case of disruption on the mainline? I'm sure someone can confirm this
 

PupCuff

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Salaries are typically higher at 'Intercity' TOCs than regional ones, the same goes for other grades as well as Driver too. Of the two mentioned by the OP my understanding is XC tend to have better T&Cs than Avanti even if sometimes (eg conductors/Train Managers and catering staff) the headline pay is lower. Regional/local TOCs often have much better T&Cs vice higher pay. Additionally, the reference to Avanti having 'high speed routes and traction' seems odd as XC also operate 125mph rolling stock and routes. Higher pay is usually a combination of historical reasons ('top link men' etc), the desire to poach qualifieds off regional/local operators who tend to do most of the training, and 'sales' of terms and conditions such as working hours, overtime, Sundays etc.
 

221129

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No one drives Aberdeen - Penzance. Example being on the Aberdeen - Penzance you are looking at something down the lines of driver 1 Aberdeen - Edinburgh, driver 2 Edinburgh - Leeds (varies some get relief at Newcastle) driver 3 Leeds - Birmingham, driver 4 Birmingham - Exeter/Plymouth, driver 5 Exeter/Plymouth - Penzance. The drivers don't traverse very far. An Edinburgh driver for example would drive Edinburgh to Aberdeen or Glasgow/Edinburgh - Newcastle/Leeds with diversionary routes in between such as Cathcart/Bellshill, Edinburgh Suburban and the bridge in Newcastle. Unsure if Edinburgh would sign Doncaster as well in case of disruption on the mainline? I'm sure someone can confirm this
For reference Edinburgh don't sign Doncaster. Also the Aberdeen to Penzance is driver crewed as follows; Aberdeen - Dundee (EDB1) Dundee - Edinburgh (EDB2) Edinburgh - Leeds (LDS1) Leeds - Birmingham (LDS2) Birmingham - Bristol (BRI1) Bristol - Plymouth (PLY1) Plymouth - Penzance (PLY2) so 7 drivers total.
 

GreenBell

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My understanding of the situation is as follows:

Avanti - Lots of conditions were apparently sold to take the salary as high as it is, all depots except Polmadie have four 5 day weeks and then a week of rest days (adds up to an average 4 day week), with committed Sundays this can mean working 6 days on the bounce. Sundays are flat rate, though I believe there's a booking on fee since it's overtime. I think they also have potentially big movements from booked starting time if getting a booked job from a spare turn, plus some lodging. They had a history of poaching drivers and very rarely recruited trainees, though I've heard that the DfT have told them they need to train more in-house.

Cross Country - I don't know so much about terms and conditions except that Sundays are committed and they haven't (again until recently, probably under DfT pressure) trained many people at all, historically they preferred to poach. Bear in mind that a lot of their drivers were ex-Virgin Cross Country already on high salaries. May have lodging turns as well, not totally sure.

WMT/LNWR - Sundays totally outside with certainly what was a hefty premium, London Midland tried to take the premium away and couldn't run any Sunday services for a long time as a result. Apparently there's also a lot of ex-BR terms and conditions, which has kept a lot of senior drivers from going to Avanti/Cross Country. BR terms sometimes carry cash enhancements that other companies have consolidated (depending on the specific terms). At another TOC, I believe at least two London suburban depots also with Sundays totally outside have lots of old BR financial enhancements.

Chiltern - Sundays totally outside again, I believe that historically the management culture was very good (most management were ex-BR) and turnover was minimal. They seem to be recruiting more often now, the reason for which I don't know. The only company out of the four to have any DOO work.

EMR - I don't know how out of date the ASLEF figure is because I saw a quoted figure on here that was considerably higher than the amount quoted on the Company Information pages. Newer drivers have Sundays inside, I don't know much about T&Cs.

If Chiltern and WMT sold Sundays to either make them committed or fully inside, I wouldn't be surprised if they got a salary at or near Avanti/Cross Country. GTR TL/GN showed us what the going rate is to commit to a given number of Sundays and I don't see a good DCC accepting much less.

Most of the above is gathered from what I have heard or seen (some of ti on here) and some of it may well be wrong but it's simply the understanding I have.
Thanks Economist, that's all very helpful. What do you mean by pressure from the DfT for XC to recruit trainees? There seems to be loads of TOC's all over the country only recruiting trainees at the minute and not advertising for qualified drivers simultaneously, is there some sort of scheme going on? It's also interesting that you say EMR have different conditions for different drivers, is that quite common in some TOC's? Where I am that's pretty much unheard of.


Thanks for everyone's else's comments too


:D
 

Starmill

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It's very common indeed for there to be two or more sets of conditions because these come from previous franchises which were then combined. For example Northern have staff in different locations on former Arriva Trains Northern conditions, former First North Western conditions and former First TransPennine Express conditions. I think this applied to CrossCountry too, but that they successfully restructured their drivers' conditions (though not guards)?
 

Tom Quinne

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There doesn’t appear to much interest in guards terms being rolled in one company packages, XC, GWR, Northern, TPE, EMT, Anglia, London North Western/West Mids all have multiple guards contracts but most seem to have completed a driver repackage in the main.

Why? I don’t know, drivers are more useful perhaps? ECS, Ferry/Shunt moves etc perhaps
 

Economist

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What do you mean by pressure from the DfT for XC to recruit trainees? There seems to be loads of TOC's all over the country only recruiting trainees at the minute and not advertising for qualified drivers simultaneously, is there some sort of scheme going on? It's also interesting that you say EMR have different conditions for different drivers, is that quite common in some TOC's? Where I am that's pretty much unheard of.
Historically, there were certain TOCs (Virgin West Coast/Avanti, Cross Country, LNER/East Coast) which very rarely took trainees. Given the salaries they offered, they didn't need to, it was cheaper for them to poach drivers from other train operating companies, plus they could have their pick of the best drivers who would likely pass everything first time and have a great safety record. This generally caused an upwards pressure on salaries/T&Cs elsewhere.

Allthings considered, it's quite inefficient for a qualified driver to move because they have to be re-trained on new traction and routes. It's much more efficient to keep people in one place for as long as possible. My understanding is that the DfT may have decided (I haven't seen anything written down though), that they'd had enough of the poaching and wanted pretty much all TOCs to recruit trainees, they also built an apprenticeship for train driving so that much of the training is now government, rather than TOC, funded. I believe Avanti and LNER have been recruiting a lot of trainees internally, Cross Country I'm less sure about.

That said, in the past year or so, there has been quite a few tasty vacancies that have opened up for qualified drivers:
Avanti: London Euston
LNER: London Kings Cross and Newcastle
Cross Country: Various but a big emphasis on Birmingham New Street.
Chiltern: Stourbridge Junction.
EMR: Various depots.
TPE: Pretty much all depots.
GWR: Pretty much all depots.
 

GreenBell

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Historically, there were certain TOCs (Virgin West Coast/Avanti, Cross Country, LNER/East Coast) which very rarely took trainees. Given the salaries they offered, they didn't need to, it was cheaper for them to poach drivers from other train operating companies, plus they could have their pick of the best drivers who would likely pass everything first time and have a great safety record. This generally caused an upwards pressure on salaries/T&Cs elsewhere.

Allthings considered, it's quite inefficient for a qualified driver to move because they have to be re-trained on new traction and routes. It's much more efficient to keep people in one place for as long as possible. My understanding is that the DfT may have decided (I haven't seen anything written down though), that they'd had enough of the poaching and wanted pretty much all TOCs to recruit trainees, they also built an apprenticeship for train driving so that much of the training is now government, rather than TOC, funded. I believe Avanti and LNER have been recruiting a lot of trainees internally, Cross Country I'm less sure about.

That said, in the past year or so, there has been quite a few tasty vacancies that have opened up for qualified drivers:
Avanti: London Euston
LNER: London Kings Cross and Newcastle
Cross Country: Various but a big emphasis on Birmingham New Street.
Chiltern: Stourbridge Junction.
EMR: Various depots.
TPE: Pretty much all depots.
GWR: Pretty much all depots.
Thanks Economist. Cal me a cynic, but that does have a slight wiff of flooding the market to drive down wages :frown:. I wonder if Aslef are keeping an eye on it.
 

Tom Quinne

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Thanks Economist. Cal me a cynic, but that does have a slight wiff of flooding the market to drive down wages :frown:. I wonder if Aslef are keeping an eye on it.
ASLEF want an end to RDW, and Sunday inside the working week - this requires more drivers thus if enough can be convinced ASLEF is the only show in town will mean more members/subs more money in the ASLEF bank account. Remember ASLEF still owe GTR £250,000 I seem to recall.
 

LCC106

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I don’t think I’ve seen it mentioned here but pretty certain that XC drivers can be moved 12 hours each way when on spare. If so (and someone will correct me if I’m wrong) you could be rostered to start at 12 noon today (just as an example) but called in at midnight last night or midnight tonight. Messes up your social life, I should think.
 

Evolution

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I don’t think I’ve seen it mentioned here but pretty certain that XC drivers can be moved 12 hours each way when on spare. If so (and someone will correct me if I’m wrong) you could be rostered to start at 12 noon today (just as an example) but called in at midnight last night or midnight tonight. Messes up your social life, I should think.
I believe this is the case with all the ex virgin franchises and it’s a major negative and one of the reasons drivers at my TOC wouldn’t move over.
 

Tom Quinne

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I don’t think I’ve seen it mentioned here but pretty certain that XC drivers can be moved 12 hours each way when on spare. If so (and someone will correct me if I’m wrong) you could be rostered to start at 12 noon today (just as an example) but called in at midnight last night or midnight tonight. Messes up your social life, I should think.
Isn’t that one of the XC fairytales?
 

lammergeier

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Isn’t that one of the XC fairytales?
Indeed it is, repeated often on here.

You cannot be moved so you book off more than 11 hours after your original spare booking on time. Where this movement of 12 hours either way comes from I've got no idea.

You won't be brought in 12 hours early either as that messes with various rules in DRI surrounding rest. I think in many years at XC the most I've been moved is about 4 hours.
 
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lammergeier

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I believe this is the case with all the ex virgin franchises and it’s a major negative and one of the reasons drivers at my TOC wouldn’t move over.
I find it absolutely bizarre that people would be put off changing employer because of a condition that they have either misunderstood or got completely wrong without even bothering to research it.
 
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Starmill

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Thanks Economist. Cal me a cynic, but that does have a slight wiff of flooding the market to drive down wages :frown:. I wonder if Aslef are keeping an eye on it.
In many parts of the country services have been expanding, which created clear shortages, and there were more expansions committed to in theory but not yet delivered, or upcoming (thrown into much doubt now obviously). Furthermore it was claimed that at some locations there had been drivers retiring at a faster rate than they were reaching productivity at the end of the lengthy training process. The efforts to convince experienced drivers to become managers who are then able to run the training schools also takes them out of most availability to actually drive. In London it was also said that a few of the best paid drivers had even moved to Eurostar, the only ones paying more, although that's probably only trivial. This is in addition to the other key points mentioned above. So however one looks at it, a significant increase was really called for simply to maintain the status quo and was beginning to appear as many have suggested. As a result I don't think there's any real possibility of an oversupply, unless the service cutbacks following Covid-19 are significant. I don't know if any experienced drivers are looking at or already have decided to bring retirement forward after the trials and tribulations of Covid-19 but again I wouldn't be surprised. We have heard many were shielding.
 

Economist

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I don't know if any experienced drivers are looking at or already have decided to bring retirement forward after the trials and tribulations of Covid-19 but again I wouldn't be surprised. We have heard many were shielding.
I've known of a few drivers doing just that, especially those with underlying health conditions and a good enough pension such that the reduction in annuity isn't too bad. I've known quite a few DIs going back to standard driving duties as well.
 

LCC106

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Indeed it is, repeated often on here.

You cannot be moved so you book off more than 11 hours after your original spare booking on time. Where this movement of 12 hours either way comes from I've got no idea.

You won't be brought in 12 hours early either as that messes with various rules in DRI surrounding rest. I think in many years at XC the most I've been moved is about 4 hours.
I suspect it is my misunderstanding when I’ve had an XC road learner with me... but if it’s often quoted on here I’m not the only one to misunderstand!
 

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