East Coast franchise – direct award to LNER until 2025

Ianno87

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XC didn't have improvements when it was a franchise either, other than the original Virgin one (with its well-known major flaws).
That's a bit unfair. Improvements very early on in the franchise include introduction of the HST sets, introduction of the additional Southampton workings every two hours (helped by not carting half empty trains the long way round to Brighton) and minor increase in seating on the 170 and 22x fleet (albeit by ripping out the 'shop*' and some luggage space).

And it now pays a premium back to govermnent.


*Notice how people seem to have got over that now, despite an outcry at the time?
 
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thenorthern

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Hopefully the DfT will now realise that the Intercity East Coast franchise has lost a lot of its importance since privatisation particularly after the West Coast upgrade in the early 2000s and future franchise competitions should reflect this.
 

GoneSouth

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That's a bit unfair. Improvements very early on in the franchise include introduction of the HST sets, introduction of the additional Southampton workings every two hours (helped by not carting half empty trains the long way round to Brighton) and minor increase in seating on the 170 and 22x fleet (albeit by ripping out the 'shop*' and some luggage space).

And it now pays a premium back to govermnent.


*Notice how people seem to have got over that now, despite an outcry at the time?
Another “improvement” they made was to rip out the at seat audio entertainment that was introduced by Virgin. I thought that was s great idea until Arriva pulled the plug.
Because unlike GWR they are actually managing to deliver a reasonably OK trolley service?
No they aren’t. I was on one of their trains for over 4 hours yesterday without seeing a trolley or hearing a single announcement about its availability. Not great for potentially some of the longest journeys on the uk rail network. Surely someone travelling from Plymouth to Sheffield or Bristol to Newcastle deserves the option of a drink and a snack!
 

Hadders

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Another “improvement” they mae was to rip out the at seat audio entertainment that was introduced by Virgin. I thought that was s great idea until Arriva pulled the plug.
I think that had to go to allow WiFi to be fitted - the space the back of house equipment took up was needed for the WiFi equipment. Also since the introduction on Voyages and Pendolinos Ipads, IPods along with podcasts, iplayer etc rendered the at seat audio system redundant.
 

hexagon789

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Hopefully the DfT will now realise that the Intercity East Coast franchise has lost a lot of its importance since privatisation particularly after the West Coast upgrade in the early 2000s and future franchise competitions should reflect this.
It's still at least the next most important mainline artery I'd say and while I think that has been perhaps part of the issue in speccing previous franchises, I wouldn't want to see them descope service provision.
 

yorksrob

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Hopefully the DfT will now realise that the Intercity East Coast franchise has lost a lot of its importance since privatisation particularly after the West Coast upgrade in the early 2000s and future franchise competitions should reflect this.
The WCML isn't a lot of use if you want to travel to Leeds, Hull or Newcastle.

With the exception perhaps of Scotland services, with increased use from places such as Hull, which were previously poorly served, the route is more important than its ever been.
 

Jorge Da Silva

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So what improvements will be made in this period?
LNER plans during the course of its franchise:

  • From September 2019, two hourly services (5tpd) will be introduced to Lincoln by extending the current Newark Northgate terminators
  • From December 2019, two hourly services (6tpd) will be introduced to Harrogate (extension of existing Leeds services, i think)
  • From December 2019, an extra Sunderland service will be introduced
  • By May 2020 An extra Stirling service will be introduced
  • From May 2020, two hourly services (7tpd) will be introduced to Bradford Forster Square (extension of Leeds services)
  • From May 2020, one train per day will be introduced to Huddersfield
  • From 2021, two hourly services will introduced to Middlesborough (extension of York services)
  • Leeds journey times reduced to just two hours
  • Edinburgh journey times reduced to just four hours.
 

ainsworth74

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Another “improvement” they made was to rip out the at seat audio entertainment that was introduced by Virgin. I thought that was s great idea until Arriva pulled the plug.
Virgin also "pulled the plug" on their trains on the West Coast so perhaps its more that the system was hardly used by anyone due to advances in personal electronics and the space behind the scenes could be better employed by wifi equipment that more people will use than would ever use the audio equipment.
 

Bletchleyite

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Virgin also "pulled the plug" on their trains on the West Coast so perhaps its more that the system was hardly used by anyone due to advances in personal electronics and the space behind the scenes could be better employed by wifi equipment that more people will use than would ever use the audio equipment.
Like on-train payphones it was a good idea (born in the days of personal cassette and CD players which would maybe last 1-2 hours on the batteries) but was, as you say, superceded by technology. These days anyone wishing to listen to music on the go has a device capable of doing that in their pocket.
 

thenorthern

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The WCML isn't a lot of use if you want to travel to Leeds, Hull or Newcastle.

With the exception perhaps of Scotland services, with increased use from places such as Hull, which were previously poorly served, the route is more important than its ever been.
I am not suggesting a decrease in service provision however I think the franchise premium payments need to be looked at as three private operators in a row have failed because of overbidding. While I know its the operator who makes the bid I think the DfT should be more realistic with what premiums it can expect.

Since 1996 through the ECML has lost a lot of the Hull, Bradford, Sunderland traffic as well as some traffic from intermediate stations en-route such as Grantham through open access operators. Also in 1996 GNER operated a two-hourly service to Glasgow from London which at the time was the same as what Virgin Trains offered and the GNER services were only marginally slower. Today the London to Glasgow market is almost nonexistent for LNER.
 

Jorge Da Silva

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I am not suggesting a decrease in service provision however I think the franchise premium payments need to be looked at as three private operators in a row have failed because of overbidding. While I know its the operator who makes the bid I think the DfT should be more realistic with what premiums it can expect.

Since 1996 through the ECML has lost a lot of the Hull, Bradford, Sunderland traffic as well as some traffic from intermediate stations en-route such as Grantham through open access operators. Also in 1996 GNER operated a two-hourly service to Glasgow from London which at the time was the same as what Virgin Trains offered and the GNER services were only marginally slower. Today the London to Glasgow market is almost nonexistent for LNER.
I believe LNER can not compete with Virgin for Glasgow due to a massive difference in journey times post 2008, hence why it no longer exists. Hull, Bradford and Sunderland were gone before 1996, except the first two had 1 train per day each. Virgin reintroduced Sunderland into the Franchise and Bradford Interchange and Hull get regular services via Grand Central and Hull trains respectively.
 

GrimShady

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I am not suggesting a decrease in service provision however I think the franchise premium payments need to be looked at as three private operators in a row have failed because of overbidding. While I know its the operator who makes the bid I think the DfT should be more realistic with what premiums it can expect.

Since 1996 through the ECML has lost a lot of the Hull, Bradford, Sunderland traffic as well as some traffic from intermediate stations en-route such as Grantham through open access operators. Also in 1996 GNER operated a two-hourly service to Glasgow from London which at the time was the same as what Virgin Trains offered and the GNER services were only marginally slower. Today the London to Glasgow market is almost nonexistent for LNER.
Wasn't the 2 hourly Glasgow London from InterCity days?
 

tbtc

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If it's by and large satisfying passengers and it's turning a profit to Government coffers, why prat with it unnecessarily?
Even the Chuckle Brothers would be able to pay a premium if put in charge of the ECML franchise - AIUI it's always paid a premium (under GNER, National Express, DOR, Stagecoach/Virgin and now LNER) - the question is whether LNER are paying a better premium to the Treasury than Stagecoach/ Virgin were actually paying under VTEC - that's the benchmark.

Simply turning it into "are they paying a premium or not" is a pretty meaningless benchmark on a franchise that has always paid a premium.

Wasn't the 2 hourly Glasgow London from InterCity days?
Yes - GNER inherited the bi-hourly service that British Rail had previously introduced.

Made sense at the time - as wiring a relatively short distance from Carstairs to Edinburgh meant doubling the frequency of trains from London to Glasgow (in the black and white days when running Glasgow trains down the ECML had no real time penalty compared to running them down the WCML). Also worth pointing out how poor/ infrequent/ "tidal" the London - Glasgow services used to be - none of this "hourly plus regular via Birmingham too" malarkey... kids these days don't know they're born!
 

ForTheLoveOf

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Even the Chuckle Brothers would be able to pay a premium if put in charge of the ECML franchise - AIUI it's always paid a premium (under GNER, National Express, DOR, Stagecoach/Virgin and now LNER) - the question is whether LNER are paying a better premium to the Treasury than Stagecoach/ Virgin were actually paying under VTEC - that's the benchmark.

Simply turning it into "are they paying a premium or not" is a pretty meaningless benchmark on a franchise that has always paid a premium.
Bletchleyite's point may actually turn out to be more subtle than it appears - whilst you are correct that the ECML has always been a premium-paying franchise, this does not take into account the massive amounts paid to Network Rail. When broken down by route and by TOC (something that is definitely the subject of interpretation and method!) this shows that the ECML franchise barely breaks even. So if LNER have managed to get it to actually bring the Government a profit once all costs are considered then they have done a good job. I don't think the ORR's annual statistics are available for LNER's period of management to determine this.
 

yorksrob

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I am not suggesting a decrease in service provision however I think the franchise premium payments need to be looked at as three private operators in a row have failed because of overbidding. While I know its the operator who makes the bid I think the DfT should be more realistic with what premiums it can expect.

Since 1996 through the ECML has lost a lot of the Hull, Bradford, Sunderland traffic as well as some traffic from intermediate stations en-route such as Grantham through open access operators. Also in 1996 GNER operated a two-hourly service to Glasgow from London which at the time was the same as what Virgin Trains offered and the GNER services were only marginally slower. Today the London to Glasgow market is almost nonexistent for LNER.
Yes, realism in premium requirements would certainly be beneficial.

Governnment also needs to revise its policy of driving down subsidy to beyond what is practical.
 

thenorthern

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With First East Coast Trains launching in 2021 supposedly I think it will give the DfT a good idea what to expect for Franchise premiums for a future east coast operator as it will mean that London-Newcastle services will no longer be a monopoly for a new East Coast Operator thus likely eroding revenue even more.
 

Bletchleyite

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Even the Chuckle Brothers would be able to pay a premium if put in charge of the ECML franchise - AIUI it's always paid a premium (under GNER, National Express, DOR, Stagecoach/Virgin and now LNER) - the question is whether LNER are paying a better premium to the Treasury than Stagecoach/ Virgin were actually paying under VTEC - that's the benchmark.

Simply turning it into "are they paying a premium or not" is a pretty meaningless benchmark on a franchise that has always paid a premium.
Not really - an unsustainable premium was part of the cause of the many collapses. A realistic, sustainable premium would be a sensible benchmark.
 

dave1

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Last Saturday the 6//07/2019 i bought a ticket at Kings Cross and boarded the 21.00 hours train to Newcastle
on boarding the train at Kings Cross and getting off at Newcastle my ticket was never checked and barriers were open at both ends
A large number of people got on and off at different stations on route.
i wonder how many fares are actually missed as this is not the first time i have done this late on a Saturday night without any ticket check
If they are losing revenue because of this I would not expect much improvements to service etc.
The train on Saturday was very old stock
 

thenorthern

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The services to Glasgow were cut to one train per day in May 2011 and at the same time CrossCountry extended their services from Edinburgh to Glasgow every two hours to compensate.
 

Clip

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I think that had to go to allow WiFi to be fitted - the space the back of house equipment took up was needed for the WiFi equipment. Also since the introduction on Voyages and Pendolinos Ipads, IPods along with podcasts, iplayer etc rendered the at seat audio system redundant.
All well and good but not being able to stream content makes that idea a bit daft so was a bit of a shame when they did take it out
 

Clip

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Like on-train payphones it was a good idea (born in the days of personal cassette and CD players which would maybe last 1-2 hours on the batteries) but was, as you say, superceded by technology. These days anyone wishing to listen to music on the go has a device capable of doing that in their pocket.
But the on train WiFi won’t let you stream content and it’s a struggle getting a signal on your 4G and whilst I don’t mind some of the content on beam I begrudge having an app on my phone like that
 

GoneSouth

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I think that had to go to allow WiFi to be fitted - the space the back of house equipment took up was needed for the WiFi equipment. Also since the introduction on Voyages and Pendolinos Ipads, IPods along with podcasts, iplayer etc rendered the at seat audio system redundant.
I completely agree, these days iPhones, iPads and Android devices are in everybody’s pockets, and it may be the case that the space used by the at seat audio system is now used by the WIFI kit, however, I’m not sure we can give Arriva the credit for foreseeing an entertainment revolution :) I’d say it was more likely removed to save a few quid! When did XC and LNER/VTEC first introduce WIFI ?
I've consistently found XC to be cheaper than LNER from Edinburgh to Newcastle and vice versa
Coincidentally, that’s part of the route with competition for passengers. Sadly the same cannot be said for Bristol-Derby, Cheltenham-Wakefield, Leeds-Gloucester or multiple other stations along the way. XC have a monopoly and get away with charging too much IMHO
 

tbtc

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Not really - an unsustainable premium was part of the cause of the many collapses. A realistic, sustainable premium would be a sensible benchmark.
So, if a "nationalised" operator are paying a higher premium then that's great because that proves that nationalised railways are more efficient (and you aren't paying private shareholders etc)

But if a "nationalised" operator pay a lower premium then that's great too because that means that it's more sustainable (than those nasty private companies who would have paid a higher premium)?

If the Government wanted to insist on a lower premium then I'm sure VTEC would have been happy (they were paying the premiums that they were required to, AIUI).

I say nationalised in inverted commas because it's essentially been subcontracted by the Government, it's just that they've contracted it out to management consultants rather than a company that also runs buses (and a lot of people on here seem to think that one is acceptable whilst the other is ghastly).
 

GoneSouth

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All well and good but not being able to stream content makes that idea a bit daft so was a bit of a shame when they did take it out
I don’t think streaming was common when this happened and I suspect there was quite a gap before WIFI was introduced (not that they allow streaming content anyway). My portable DAB/FM radio barely even worked on anything newer than the IC225s so entertainment options were limited!
 

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