Over 1 Month to go for WCML Franchise announcentme

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SkinnyDave

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I know this has been discussed elsewhere in detail but we are fast approaching the day of reckoning for the four bidders.

Who are we all going for?

Id like Virgin to keep it but my prediction is SNCF/Keolis
 
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SprinterMan

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I know this has been discussed elsewhere in detail but we are fast approaching the day of reckoning for the four bidders.

Who are we all going for?

Id like Virgin to keep it but my prediction is SNCF/Keolis

I would like to see Virgin keep the franchise. They have done a good job with WC (unlike XC) and deserve to keep it. Any of the others probably won't be any better so better the devil you know.

Adam :D
 

Robinson

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My vote would be Virgin. Out of the current intercity operators I believe Virgin offer the best standard class experience; the onboard shop is as good as it gets catering-wise (although I can't speak for first class passengers).
 

rail-britain

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Given the CEO has just jumped ship to Network Rail, he obviously isn't that confident of still having at job at the end of the year...
Equally, Virgin Rail have been offloading all their complimentary rail vouchers (valid to November 2012) and I have already managed to pick some up
This suggests a swap to another provider, possibly in favour of awarding East Coast to Virgin Rail
 

mbonwick

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Given the CEO has just jumped ship to Network Rail, he obviously isn't that confident of still having at job at the end of the year...
Equally, Virgin Rail have been offloading all their complimentary rail vouchers (valid to November 2012) and I have already managed to pick some up
This suggests a swap to another provider, possibly in favour of awarding East Coast to Virgin Rail

The CEO (and I'm not even sure it is the CEO) has not 'jumped ship', he has simply agreed to consult to NR on the best way to improve performance.

Equally, Virgin have to offload the vouchers as they have no way of knowing who will win - its a closed bid process and it would look suspect if Virgin kept their deals etc, assuming they win and then do....
 

SkinnyDave

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What is the date when the new franchisee is announced?

Adam :D

1st August I think.
It just worries me that the DFT are going to be silly again and go for the one that offers the most in premiums as they have recently done yet again with the GA franchise all though a much smaller operator.
Thats why im going for SNCF/Keolis to win but would prefer Virgin to keep hold of it.
 

David10

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Word is that SNCF are desperate to win the franchise and are prepared to pay over the odds to get it with the aim of having the inside running for HS2.
Given the CEO has just jumped ship to Network Rail, he obviously isn't that confident of still having at job at the end of the year.
Chris Gibb is on secondment. Which means he remains on Virgin's payroll, who then invoice Network Rail for whatever rate has been agreed. If Virgin do not retain their franchise he will remain their expense.
This suggests a swap to another provider, possibly in favour of awarding East Coast to Virgin Rail
Clearly a lack of understanding of how franchising works, East Coast will be let to whoever lodges the best bid, not given to someone who lost out in a previous race.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
What is the date when the new franchisee is announced?
Due in August, probably a safe bet though not until after the Olympics.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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the DFT are going to be silly again and go for the one that offers the most in premiums

That's what they are supposed to do, other things being equal.
While 1 August is supposed to be the date, the DfT has a habit of announcing this sort of thing early if it is "good news".
My guess is just before Parliament packs up for the summer hols (ie before the media lose interest).
It will be a biggie, either way.

Chris Gibb is VT's COO (ie day-to-day management).
He is seconded to NR to help sort out WCML South performance, which is very much in VT's interest (and of the new franchisee, whoever it is).
 

DVD

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I would like to see Virgin keep the franchise. They have done a good job with WC (unlike XC) and deserve to keep it. Any of the others probably won't be any better so better the devil you know.

Adam :D

I agree that Virgin have done a good job with a challenging franchise but suspect that they won't end up keeping it.
 

All Line Rover

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I would like to see Virgin keep the franchise. They have done a good job with WC (unlike XC) and deserve to keep it. Any of the others probably won't be any better so better the devil you know.

I wouldn't give Virgin all the credit. A lot (if not most) of the money used to modernise the WCML has come from taxpayers, not Virgin.

At the same time, I do think Virgin offer a good overall experience. The only reason I don't want another company to win is because I doubt they'd be any better, but I'm willing to be surprised.
 

whhistle

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It's not just about where the money has come from though, it's how it has been spent.
 

The Planner

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I think this time a lot more emphasis on "value for money" will be taken, not just who is going to generate the most cash. I also suspect we will know before August aswell.
 

Failed Unit

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I have the view if virgin give the best bid I won't be upset, but I definately would never say they deserve to keep it. They are a little investment shy, 7 / 10 worse stations in the uk are virgins, they were not even accepting credit cards on board last time I used them. They are good at taking credit for other peoples investment.
 

Yew

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My only worry is that they will choose a franchisee that offers the cheapest cost to the taxpayer, at the cost of improvement and investment
 

rail-britain

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at the cost of improvement and investment
What investment do you expect in the next franchise?

This might go the way of Cross Country, with all the frilly edges removed and utilising the existing rolling stock throughout the next franchise (until it is life expired)
There have been proposals / suggestions to modify / extend the Class 221 units, but this will probably not be known until at least 6 months after the franchise has been operating and both parties have agreed main terms (as porposed in their franchise bid)
 

All Line Rover

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What investment do you expect in the next franchise?

Refurbished stations, that's what. Some of the current ones are awful, and unlike XC, who operate no stations, the WCML franchise holder operates a number of significant stations. It's hard to compare the two franchises in this respect.
 

rail-britain

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Refurbished stations, that's what. Some of the current ones are awful, and unlike XC, who operate no stations
Yes, this is certainly one consideration, after all this is the first point of contact for many passengers
This really wasn't possible in the current franchise, it was just too short
With a longer franchise then the investment makes sense
However several of these stations are shared with other TOC, so the argument applies that they too should contribute, this is why many such TOC only carry out the basic investment in stations
 

Failed Unit

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Yes, this is certainly one consideration, after all this is the first point of contact for many passengers
This really wasn't possible in the current franchise, it was just too short
With a longer franchise then the investment makes sense
However several of these stations are shared with other TOC, so the argument applies that they too should contribute, this is why many such TOC only carry out the basic investment in stations

Hold everything - the current franchise was 15 years. What did they invest in stations? Nothing? Compare that with the ECML who are on franchise 4. They have invested. Newark Northgate is not perfect but has seen investment. Virgin managed stations featuring 7 times on the 10 worse uk stations is no accident. If they can't do it with a 15 year franchise how come GNER managed it on a 7 year?

Oh before you hit me with shared with other operators how many GNER stations were exclusive. Even Newark and Grantham had CT. if people from Lincoln drive to Newark they still had to suffer the same problems as CT passengers so in a rare defence of ct why should they contribute?
 

Blindtraveler

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Nowhere near enough to a Pacer :(
I will be sad to see Virgin go if go they do. They are without doubt my favourite long distance TOC and come up trumps on customer service every time. Agree there network of managed stations is a bit rough and ready but theres many, both enthusiasts, media and Joh public watching this one as in many respects they will take a bit of beating and I certainly hope the fears of some that an XC dumming 6wn is coming dont become a realitty as there has already been so much of tha network wide that it will see me and many others swapping the train for the air on runs like this.
 

calc7

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I will be extremely disappointed if Virgin do not retain the franchise as the customer service will go down the drain a la East Coast - particularly in First Class where for the latter the job is now nothing more than robotic stinginess without a smile.
 

David10

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What investment do you expect in the next franchise?
Electrification of Crewe - Chester has been suggested. Virgin has invested in some stations, ticket hall at Stoke-on-Trent and platform 12 at Crewe spring to mind. Unfortunately Virgin does have some fairly awful staions courtesy of the 1960s WCML upgrade, pretty hard to make Warrington BQ attractive.
 

mattyb1405

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Who ever wins it, it would be nice to think that the two early morning trains in to London at 5.50 and 6.11 (?) from Coventry are still available and still classed as off peak!!!
 

calc7

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Who ever wins it, it would be nice to think that the two early morning trains in to London at 5.50 and 6.11 (?) from Coventry are still available and still classed as off peak!!!

I recall reading that peak restriction windows can only be around 4 hours (for certain flows) - I think the current 0720 to 1129 embargo is probably as a result of some business profit-maximising analysis and so unlikely to change (unless the rules change!)
 

Failed Unit

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I will be extremely disappointed if Virgin do not retain the franchise as the customer service will go down the drain a la East Coast - particularly in First Class where for the latter the job is now nothing more than robotic stinginess without a smile.

To be honest after about 1 year the service is about the same in 1st, with east coast better on the weekends. Virgin had their problems early in the franchise, I recall pendolino prime and getting on at Warrington looking forward to it just to be told all the food was gone. What was worse for me was that in had changed trains at Warrington and at the time there was nothing to buy at the station.

Not sure how standard class passengers will rate virgin. I was unimpressed when the removed the option to pay by credit card at the shop. Then turn round and say they have no change. I haven't used them since. TPE for Manchester. East coast for London and I haven't needed to go to Birmingham. I am not boycotting them but if you have a choice at about the same time I will pick the operator that will sell me refreshment should I decide I want them. The may have restored the credit cards on board, but they have lost my revenue because of it (as my tickets are TPE only - virgin get no orcats.)
 

Robbies

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On the stations front, those that are shared with other Operators are I presume managed by Network Rail so it is up to all operators to bash.... oops I meant thrash it out with Network Rail.

Refreshing 1960's WCML stations can be done, it just takes some imagination to do it and get the local community involved in helping to do it as well.
 

calc7

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To be honest after about 1 year the service is about the same in 1st, with east coast better on the weekends. Virgin had their problems early in the franchise, I recall pendolino prime and getting on at Warrington looking forward to it just to be told all the food was gone. What was worse for me was that in had changed trains at Warrington and at the time there was nothing to buy at the station.

I was more on about the staff attitude. Virgin crews (particularly Manchester and Birmingham ones) always seem happy to serve customers, provide banter and smile. Heck, one came offering her box of chocolates round to us a couple of days ago! East Coast ones have had their job made so uninspiring and robotic by bean-counting management that it isn't fun at all talking to them - more so when they are trying to conceal options from the trolley.
 
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