Franchise Changes

Which TOC most deserves to retain/who would you miss most if they lost the franchise?

  • Virgin Trains

    Votes: 37 49.3%
  • First Great Western

    Votes: 23 30.7%
  • c2c

    Votes: 9 12.0%
  • First Capital Connect

    Votes: 6 8.0%

  • Total voters
    75
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SprinterMan

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Before the end of September 2013, 4 franchises are up for renewal. My question to you is who most deserves to retain, and who will you miss most if the franchise is lost?

c2c
The once mighty NX rail empire has reduced to a small commuter line near the Thames estuary. Will NX retain or will they be (rightly) purged from the industry. NX, depite losing East Anglia and still being in the Dft's doghouse after the NXEC and NXEA debacles do have a hope in hell of retaining this one, as they have done a good job. I hope they lose it to abellio though, to fit in with GA. First Group don't need it, and the Hong Kong metro operator MTR is unknown, so I am wary of them.

Bidders
NX c2c (Current)
Abellio (To win)
First Group
MTR




First Great Western
In my opinion, the best TOC in the country currently. I really hope they keep the franchise, as they have done a superb job recently. They took on more 150s than they were asked to to provide a better level of service. They did a superb refurbishment on the HSTs and are currently lengthening them. They are the only UK TOC to have airline-style TVs in seat backs. It will be a travesty if they lose the franchise, and whoever takes over will take donkey's years to fully repaint the massive fleet. It does worry me a little that the DfT may want to punish First Group for not taking the franchise extension though (why didn't they take it?). Stagecoach shouldn't win, as it would give them a monopoly in the south west. Arriva shouldn't win, as I believe East Coast, West Coast, Great Western and CorssCountry should all have different operators, to keep things fair. It disgusts me than NX are even bidding, lets hope the DfT feel the same way.

Bidders
First Group (To retain)
NX
Stagecoach
Arriva




Virgin Trains
This is a tough one. I am very much in 2 minds about Virgin. They are very good, and I love Pendolinos, but the name "Virgin" I think is stupid and embrassing, and they did ruin the XC network. Also, I find the "Thunderbirds" names on the 57s irritating and hope they all go soon (Only 3 left!). Aside from this, they have done a very good job with the WCML, apart from the spiteful Wrexham service designed to put WSMR out of buisness and the comparatively minimal level of service in the Trent Valley. I am really not sure whether they deserve to retain or not. If they did go, people would hopefully stop confusing AXC with them, and they do have a comparatively small fleet compared to FGW so repainting wouldn't be a headache. First Group should not win as I believe ECML, WCML, GW and XC should all have different operators to keep things interesting, and Abellio are good at little local franchises with slightly iffy stock (Northern, Greater Anglia) and should not be given one of the country's premier lines. Keolis/SNCF fascinates me, and it would be kind of exciting to have the TGV operator take over the WCML. I do hope whoever wins gives 221144 to XC though, as it is actually needed there. All operators are fine so I won't be massively sad whoever wins tbh.

Bidders
Virgin Trains (Current, perhaps to win) EDIT: (To retain)
Keolis/SNCF (Perhpas to win) EDIT: (Perhaps not)
First Group
Abellio





First Capital Connect
Much maligned, although I'm not sure why, the current Thameslink operator isn't everyone's favourite company. FCC aren't bad, but neither are they brilliant. They have done a reasonable job with the franchise, with nice touches like taking on the 321s, and the 365s and 377s are very nice inside, but they haven't done enough to retain. Govia should win here, as they own the 377s anyway, and already operate Southern and Southeastern, which will make the merger alot easier. Abellio would be interesting as Cambridge would have one operated doing all London services again, until East Coast take over there so maybe not. As I said earlier, I know nothing about MTR so don't have an opinion. Stagecoach would be good if we got some interesting through service like King's Lynn to Weymouth or something like that, but this is unlikely.

Bidders
First Group (Current)
Govia (To win)
Abellio
MTR
Stagecoach





After these refranchisings are done, East Coast, Northern, TPX and Greater Anglia are all up for retendering again so the next few years could be turbulent ones for the industry, but let's just hope it is an industry without National Express.


Adam :D
 
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ainsworth74

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It does worry me a little that the DfT may want to punish First Group for not taking the franchise extension though (why didn't they take it?).
Because they're already losing money on FGW and the premium payments to the government would just get steeper and steeper if they'd taken the extension, which could have meant we'd ended up with another NXEC. So rather and risk having that happen First both sensible and as they're entitled to do so decided to not take the optional extension and have the franchise go out for tender now.

Arriva shouldn't win, as I believe East Coast, West Coast, Great Western and CorssCountry should all have different operators, to keep things fair.
I don't care about what's fair I care about who will do the best job! :lol:

Aside from this, they have done a very good job with the WCML, apart from the spiteful Wrexham service designed to put WSMR out of business
WSMR put themselves out of business when they tried to run a Wrexham to London service that didn't call anywhere significant and took hours to complete the end to end journey! I know WSMR was beloved by the enthusiast fraternity but I honestly don't know why as they were no loss to the industry and as far as I'm concerned the rolling stock is far better employed on Chiltern.

Much maligned, although I'm not sure why, the current Thameslink operator isn't everyone's favourite company.
Try their atrocious customer service and willingness to prosecute over the smallest things as well as some RPIs that seem to be about as well trained as G4S gateline staff.
 

SprinterMan

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Because they're already losing money on FGW and the premium payments to the government would just get steeper and steeper if they'd taken the extension, which could have meant we'd ended up with another NXEC. So rather and risk having that happen First both sensible and as they're entitled to do so decided to not take the optional extension and have the franchise go out for tender now.
I hope FGW don't lose the franchise, they are my fav TOC. If they are losing money already, is it unlikely they will retain?



I don't care about what's fair I care about who will do the best job! :lol:
Different operators mean different liveries means more excitement for the spotter ;)




WSMR put themselves out of business when they tried to run a Wrexham to London service that didn't call anywhere significant and took hours to complete the end to end journey! I know WSMR was beloved by the enthusiast fraternity but I honestly don't know why as they were no loss to the industry and as far as I'm concerned the rolling stock is far better employed on Chiltern.
Yay, Someone agrees with me :)
I said this in the "Unpopular opinions" thread:
WSMR were doomed to fail from the outset, and it is better now that their superb stock has been put to good use.
How a service that carries next to no people and uses one of the thirstiest diesel locos in service managed to exist for as long as it did still surprises me.
If I was them I would have run it Wrexham General - Ruabon - Chirk - Gobowen - Shrewsbury - Wellington - Telford Central - Cosford - Wolverhampton (s) - Walsall - (Sutton Park Line) - Coleshill Parkway - Nuneaton - Bedworth - Coventry (s) - Leamington Spa - Banbury - London Marylebone to tap into other markets. Yes it would have been even slower, but Walsall, Coleshill area and Bedworth would get direct services to London, Coventy gets a direct service from Wrexham, and Nuneaton get a proper IC service again after Virgin virtually pulled out in 2007/8. I doubt this would have worked but it may have lasted longer :P There was still no other purpose of Virgin's Wrexham service apart from to take business away from them though, and I'm surprised Virgin still go there.




Try their atrocious customer service and willingness to prosecute over the smallest things as well as some RPIs that seem to be about as well trained as G4S gateline staff.
I have only been with them a few times so I wouldn't know, but their trains seem ok.


Adam :D
 

David10

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I hope FGW don't lose the franchise, they are my fav TOC. If they are losing money already, is it unlikely they will retain?
The way the deal was done of the £1.5 billion payable in premiums, £1.1 billion was payable in the last three years so unless the profit margins were huge, First was always going to exercise the break clause that was in the contract. Totally different to NX who overbid on East Coast deciding to hand the franchise, effectively breaching the contract.
 

tbtc

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c2c

First Group don't need it
Given the financial problems that they are having, which is seeing a tenth of the bus operations being flogged on (or just simply closed down in a "scorched earth" situation, as is happening around Edinburgh) I think that First would happily take on anything that guaranteed them profits.

Different operators mean different liveries means more excitement for the spotter ;)
Yes, and then those spotters say things like "why can't we have one livery like British Rail" and "why do TOCs have to waste so much time branding their trains" and "how much money is spent on all these pointless liveries, can't we just have the Intercity brand back".
 

SS4

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Shame we can't replace the DfT as they seem to cause more problems than the TOCs. I'd like to see Virgin retain the West Coast because better the devil you know
 

Wath Yard

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Before the end of September 2013, 4 franchises are up for renewal. My question to you is who most deserves to retain, and who will you miss most if the franchise is lost?
You do realise the output of a company's PR department doesn't reflect real life don't you? Although I'm not sure you do when your main complaint about Virgin is they are called Virgin (titter!).
 

Lampshade

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I'd like to see:

- Shops on Voyagers/Pendolinos retained
- Railcard easements retained
- Ticket gates kept out of WCML stations

If that means Virgin keeping the franchise then that's fine by me.
 

Badger

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I think it's worth pointing out Virgin Trains is 49% Stagecoach (since they're bidding for two others of the above too).

I want Virgin to keep their franchise, they are fantastic.

XC is a shambles Virgin or not, I won't get into that argument. Purely speaking of their current service, the only issue is capacity on the voyagers, which is to be fixed.
 

Wath Yard

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XC is a shambles Virgin or not, I won't get into that argument. Purely speaking of their current service, the only issue is capacity on the voyagers, which is to be fixed.
So consistently having the highest complaint rate, the worst record for responding to complaints, and the worst performance figures of any TOC are not issues in relation to running a TOC?
 

Schnellzug

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Sorry to be indifferent to the fate of London commuters (:P), but the only one that be of immediate relevance to me would be GW, and, since it is sadly unlikely that a new Felix Pole will appear and lead a mamagement buyout of the current company, I do think that Frist would definitely be the best candidate; which is about the only part of the Frist empire that you could really say that about.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
So consistently having the highest complaint rate, the worst record for responding to complaints, and the worst performance figures of any TOC are not issues in relation to running a TOC?
really? I thought their performance was fairly reasonable. Certainly the Voyagers seem pretty reliable, and I can only speak as i find, but there rarely seems to be much cause for complaint with the South Coast services.
 

hozza94

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MTR: To be honest they can do a good job as long as they can be more transparent than the main operation in Hong Kong. They will be good at stopping service, not sure about whether they can handle the huge diversity of services in UK
 

SprinterMan

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You do realise the output of a company's PR department doesn't reflect real life don't you? Although I'm not sure you do when your main complaint about Virgin is they are called Virgin (titter!).
That was a little uncalled for. I like Virgin as a company, but its just the little things. I would quite like Virgin to retain. I am well aware what is real life and what is just names, but I am allowed an opinion.
 

LE Greys

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My only real answer is 'I don't know'. There is no longer a GNER, and nobody delivers that level of service quality. Mind you, I haven't had the time to explore much other than in Scotland recently. I won't miss c2c as a name, but what's a name anyway? I also echo those who hope that the major inter-city TOCs in this country stay in different hands, since competition helps to keep things interesting and there is less risk of (say) an Anglo-Scottish cartel developing.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
It's probably best adding that FCC have done a reasonable job with the Great Northern suburban services, just as WAGN and NSE did before them. There is also more stock and (hopefully) longer trains around than before. From what I hear, the main complaints about FCC come from Thameslink passengers.
 

All Line Rover

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c2c is an excellent franchise, but the network is so small and simple that I don't think NX themselves deserve all the credit, and I suspect that any other company would be just as good. After all, it was not NX, but Prism Rail, who ordered the Class 357's.
 

Wath Yard

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really? I thought their performance was fairly reasonable. Certainly the Voyagers seem pretty reliable, and I can only speak as i find, but there rarely seems to be much cause for complaint with the South Coast services.
Virgin don't run a South Coast service. The figures are readily available on the NR and ORR websites.
 

SprinterMan

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Shame we can't replace the DfT as they seem to cause more problems than the TOCs. I'd like to see Virgin retain the West Coast because better the devil you know
You are right actually, Virgin do offer a good level of service, and SNCF could be another Connex so you are right.
Adam :D
 

Schnellzug

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I think, regarding SNCF, people always seem to look at the TGVs and think 'Zut alors', but they forget that those were constructed and run with extraordinary amounts of Government subsidy, and that the local services are, or certainly were until the Regions got more authority to specify services, famous for having perhaps two trains a day, and those at different times each day, and often replaced by a Bus on random occasions because they felt like it, and seemingly specifically designed not to connect. it's the same with all these Continental state-owned utopias, they can only do it because they rely on incredible amounts of Government support. What's been happening to SNCF Fret since they've had to face some real competition says it all really about how efficient and competitive they really are.
 

fgwrich

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The way the deal was done of the £1.5 billion payable in premiums, £1.1 billion was payable in the last three years so unless the profit margins were huge, First was always going to exercise the break clause that was in the contract. Totally different to NX who overbid on East Coast deciding to hand the franchise, effectively breaching the contract.
As well as having IEP, Crossrail & GWML Modernisation all lumped into the end of the current franchise too...All in all, it made sense for First to exercise the break clause really. And if anyone want's to throw the blame game for firsts departure, it was actually another one of the DfTs C*ck ups which led to them inserting the break clause into the GW Franchise anyway.

As for MTR, i think id give them a chance over on Essex Thameside - it sees to fit their type of portfolio anyway with mostly Commuter type services with a few faster services thrown in, as afterall - it is really only a fairly long commuter line anyway!

So for me, Virgin for West Coast, MTR for Essex Thameside (Id rather first concentrate on getting Anglia back than go for such a small franchise, even if it is formerly Mr Hopwoods previous teritory!), and as for the Thameslink franchise, undecided.
 

SprinterMan

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I think, regarding SNCF, people always seem to look at the TGVs and think 'Zut alors', but they forget that those were constructed and run with extraordinary amounts of Government subsidy, and that the local services are, or certainly were until the Regions got more authority to specify services, famous for having perhaps two trains a day, and those at different times each day, and often replaced by a Bus on random occasions because they felt like it, and seemingly specifically designed not to connect. it's the same with all these Continental state-owned utopias, they can only do it because they rely on incredible amounts of Government support. What's been happening to SNCF Fret since they've had to face some real competition says it all really about how efficient and competitive they really are.
Yes, after some research I now realise that, and would like Virgin to retain. We wouldn't want North Wales - London ending up like Helsby to Ellesmere Port now would we. :P

--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Shame you don't have a vote for non of them.
Surely you would miss FGW or Virgin a little bit ;)
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
As well as having IEP, Crossrail & GWML Modernisation all lumped into the end of the current franchise too...All in all, it made sense for First to exercise the break clause really. And if anyone want's to throw the blame game for firsts departure, it was actually another one of the DfTs C*ck ups which led to them inserting the break clause into the GW Franchise anyway.

As for MTR, i think id give them a chance over on Essex Thameside - it sees to fit their type of portfolio anyway with mostly Commuter type services with a few faster services thrown in, as afterall - it is really only a fairly long commuter line anyway!

So for me, Virgin for West Coast, MTR for Essex Thameside (Id rather first concentrate on getting Anglia back than go for such a small franchise, even if it is formerly Mr Hopwoods previous teritory!), and as for the Thameslink franchise, undecided.
All very good points, looking at a route map of MTR the LTS lines would seem to fall into their area of expertise :P


Adam :D
 
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HH

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Virgin are masters of self-publicity. They seem to be able to market black as white and get away with it. They have pretty new trains and a recently refreshed route and yet somehow they are bottom of the long-distance Performance league. Their stations are generally seen as very poor, and their customer service staff are no longer the paragons of virtue they were a few years ago. They are very expensive, even in rail terms. Plus most people would prefer to travel on an HST over a Pendo. And yet seemingly, for all their faults their NPS scores stay high. This must really grate on some other TOCs who try a lot harder, for much less reward.

BTW I'm not surprised their staff are OK with them (surprised it's not higher than that actually) - they pay top rates and give good benefits.

Predos: NX for FGW, SNCF for West Coast, Abellio Thameside, Govia Thameslink.
 

SprinterMan

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Virgin are masters of self-publicity. They seem to be able to market black as white and get away with it. They have pretty new trains and a recently refreshed route and yet somehow they are bottom of the long-distance Performance league. Their stations are generally seen as very poor, and their customer service staff are no longer the paragons of virtue they were a few years ago. They are very expensive, even in rail terms. Plus most people would prefer to travel on an HST over a Pendo. And yet seemingly, for all their faults their NPS scores stay high. This must really grate on some other TOCs who try a lot harder, for much less reward.

BTW I'm not surprised their staff are OK with them (surprised it's not higher than that actually) - they pay top rates and give good benefits.
This is what made me doubt Virgin in the first place, but then again there are worse companies. They do do cheap tickets though, as I regularly go from Bangor to Sudbury (Suffolk) for as little as £12.20 one way (railcard).

Predos: NX for FGW, SNCF for West Coast, Abellio Thameside, Govia Thameslink.
WHAT??!!!!



Cranks yes, population at large probably not.
It varies as HSTs interior specs vary hugely. A FGW HST is better than a pendo, but a pendo is far better than an EMT HST imo.



The poll also surprises me, as I though FGW would beat Virgin.

Adam :D
 
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Failed Unit

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Depends how you look at what virgin have done. I don't think it is a coincidence that 7 / 10 worse stations in the UK were operated by virgin. I haven't used them since the stopped taking credit cards on board (wonderful customer service). They may have restarted now. To me they havent really done much but take lots of taxpayers money because rail track couldn't deliver PUG2
 

Ivo

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I would prefer an option to vote against one of the above keeping their franchise. Even if Virgin do have hopeless PR issues they have still be a good operator. Ditto First with GW in relation to how things were five years ago - they've improved massively. And c2c have never had any real problems and are very open to local requirements (impressive considering NX are involved). Only FCC would change hands if it was entirely my choice (they've had enough problems to stretch to the Moon and back, and that's with staff alone!), and considering the future merger - and the former operators of Thameslink - I think Govia would be ideal.
 

fgwrich

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This might make some interesting reading if anyone want's to read it. On clearing out one of my old USB sticks to make way for a 'fresh' load of coursework, i ended up finding National Express 2005/2006 Bidding details for the GW franchise - which i think, were proudly published by NX at the time...rather not the case these days then.

Thank god they didnt get the GW Franchise, as theres a fair amount of the rather repetative 'National Express will bring ''Fresh new thinking'''...and National Express will bring ''Fresh New Ideas'''...Like the Fresh New Thinking brought into East Coast (By virtually killing off all the catering? and removing the former award winning Anglian buffet / resturant services from 'ONE' then?)....
 

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Essexman

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FGW should retain franchise simply for Travelling Chef and restaurants, let alone all the other good things it does.

Virgin, I'd let keep theirs even though I don't like Pendolinos and will never forgive them for what they did to WSMR.

C2C have been excellent, although as someone esle said, it's an easy line to run. Let NX keep it but don't let them near any route with catering.

FCC - I rarely use so can't comment.
 
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