Virgin West Coast Open Access Application

Bletchleyite

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I have to be blunt and say that after DfT's vendetta against Virgin, apparently caused in the main by their own incompetence, l hope that any further bias is again hammered through the Courts. That 'debacle' was caused by one party, which wasn't Virgin.
Virgin Rail Group didn't even bid. The bid was a Virgin-branded Stagecoach bid more similar to VTEC or EMT.

I do agree with Stagecoach's position on pensions[1], but sometimes that does mean you have to decline to have something you want because it comes with an adverse consequence.

[1] The nature of final salary pensions is such that in my view any business taking on liability for them that they don't already have is being grossly negligent to their shareholders. They do exist, but they need to be underwritten by the Government if the Government insists on their retention.
 
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Camden

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The new half hourly service is pre-HS2, and is a way of gauging just how much of a disaster the reduction in peak hour capacity will be for the city when coupled with the marginally faster speeds.

Two years ago the city hit the levels of use that HS2 "forecast" they'd be accommodating with their trains in 2027. Ever since then there has been all kinds of flap and daft ideas coming out (such as doubling up trains at Crewe), as various useless execs try and pray the problem away.

If adding a third service into the mix takes some of the pressure and therefore enables the government to continue to sideline the city over HS2, they won't turn their noses up at it.

I reckon for that reason alone it will get a nod.
 

hwl

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Yes their is but virgin got their open access plan out first before first announced that they were intending a 2nd hourly train??

thats how its been presented on the forum in past discussions about this
There is basically a short window to get an OA applicatiion in before the winner of the franchise competition can and this is what VT effectively did. (as happened on SWR OA alternative too)
 

hwl

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The thing is, is potentially 4 to 6 221s being available to XC because of this if it went ahead be enough to lengthen their core routes?
Obviously 222s will become available soon, but would there be enough to strengthen say most flows between the South West to North East and Manchester routes and potentially Reading?


You might well be correct that VT allowed this plan to be known publicly before the winning franchise bidder did. Therefore the climate has changed somewhat.

So it's been pointed out that ORR are independent of the DFT. But politically surely the decision makers at the ORR will realise the outcome of their decision will affect the franchised operator, their plans and finances, and potentially the public purse if the 7 car trains are being procured simply due to the Liverpool route? They will be aware their decisions have potential consequences elsewhere in the bigger picture surely?

On a further note, is it guaranteed that the ROSCO leasing company responsible for the 221s would even grant VT a lease on the 221s if the DFT and XC approached them with interest in the whole fleet for XC? Could the DFT put a block on VT leasing them, if taking them for the XC trunk routes could potentially be more beneficial to the public?
One suspects that DfT would rather anything with a QSK19 engine disappeared from New Street or Waverley
 

Bletchleyite

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One suspects that DfT would rather anything with a QSK19 engine disappeared from New Street or Waverley
An outright ban on diesel at New St would be a very, very good thing.

You could then, for instance, sandblast the roofspace clean (turn the wires off on Christmas Day to do it) and fit uplighting to make a feature of it. Quite a number of concrete underground stations in mainland Europe do it.
 

The Ham

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Did you take the loss of the XC HST rakes into account? A small transfer of WC Voyagers might just end up replacing them, with no net gain.
I would suggest that the loss of HST's would be something which didn't happen until there was much more rolling stock, probably circa 2025-2030 (not least because of the cost to make changes to the fleet).

Now whilst an upgrade from 4 to 5 coach trains would be an advantage it's not significant and would likely see passenger loading seen a few years before their introduction (say 3 years), which would likely be filled fairly quickly. It may well be that they are at busy as today upon introduction.

Any new 8 coach services would create more capacity, however even they would get busier to bring as busy as the 5 coach trains they replaced within circa 5 years. However, because we're talking about 2-3 years time they're hardly going to be less busy than the services are today.
 

Meole

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An outright ban on diesel at New St would be a very, very good thing.

You could then, for instance, sandblast the roofspace clean (turn the wires off on Christmas Day to do it) and fit uplighting to make a feature of it. Quite a number of concrete underground stations in mainland Europe do it.
How would an outright ban on diesel at New St impact on Wolverhampton given that it would become the rail head for services from Shrewsbury, Aberystwyth, Wrexham, Chester and where would the Cardiff/Nottingham services divert via ?
 

yorkie

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Just a gentle reminder that this thread is about Virgin West Coast Open Access Application and is for updates regarding this application.

Any suggestions/ideas need to be posted in the correct forum section for such discussions please.

Also any discussion about service provision for other operators should go in a thread relevant to that operator (if there is an existing recently updated topic that is relevant, please use that; if not please create a new thread).

If anyone wishes to reply to an off topic post, please create a new thread (if there isn't one already) and post your reply there; you can report off topic posts using the report button.

Thanks.
 

Jorge Da Silva

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I notice this has gone silent since Christmas, do we know if VT are still attempting to get this accepted?
Still being considered using class 221 from December 2022

From the application https://orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pd...s-limited-daft-track-access-contract-form.pdf
This application is for rights to operate services on the West Coast Main Line (WCML) between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street. The services will be operated by Virgin Trains Limited (VTL). The application is seeking rights to enable VTL to operate a new hourly service through most of the day (24 services per day, 7 days a week) between London Euston and Liverpool Lime Street, from the Principal Change Date December 2022. It is expected these services will also call at Nuneaton, Tamworth, Lichfield, and Liverpool South Parkway. This stopping pattern will connect previously unconnected towns and cities to the City of Liverpool. The contract would expire at the Principal Change Date December 2027. The services will be operated using Class 221, 125mph, tilt-enabled rolling stock. The new services will be unique in the UK rail industry. Every ticket will be guaranteed to be at least 10% cheaper than equivalent tickets offered by rail competitors. Each ticket will also come with a seat reservation for a specific service, meaning everyone will be guaranteed a seat. The VTL service would be the only rail service in the UK to guarantee no overcrowding, in normal operations. If there is disruption on the rail network and services are busier than normal, any customer who cannot get a seat will get a full refund of their ticket. VTL believes that there is off-peak and weekend capacity on the proposed route in the existing WCML timetable and as part of this application is looking forward to exploring with Network Rail how that capacity could be made available to Virgin Trains. It is Network Rail's responsibility to ensure it uses its capacity for the benefit of all passengers and freight. The rights sought by VTL are intended to be flexible so that Network Rail can make the best use of capacity on routes with high demand.
 

The_Train

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221s?

That’s got to be rejected then. How can you propose to operate a service end to end under the wires on diesel?
I'm pretty sure it will be a case of use these in the short term as I assume (with all this talk of VT taking them on) some are becoming available from Avanti. I'd be amazed if the open access operator hasn't included a proviso that these are replaced by electrics or bi-modes by a certain date within their offer
 

swt_passenger

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221s?

That’s got to be rejected then. How can you propose to operate a service end to end under the wires on diesel?
Well surely Virgin will just say they did it already when running the WCML TOC, and Avanti are allowed to now?

Obviously the stock should go to XC preferably, but it will be difficult to deny the new Virgin OA operation if they got their bid in first...
 

greatvoyager

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Well surely Virgin will just say they did it already when running the WCML TOC, and Avanti are allowed to now?

Obviously the stock should go to XC preferably, but it will be difficult to deny the new Virgin OA operation if they got their bid in first...
Surely that's different though, as west coast have a route that requires diesel (Chester/North Wales), whereas this proposal is one route that has no need for diesel?
 

Ianno87

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221s?

That’s got to be rejected then. How can you propose to operate a service end to end under the wires on diesel?
If the power supply is not up to it.

If no other suitable rolling stock available. Or making best use of existing available rolling stock.

If it's the most economical way of operating the service.

Only a medium term solution until HS2 materialises.

Lots of reasons why it could be considered a reasonable proposal.
 

Dr Day

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Genuine question - does the ORR have any obligation to consider environmental factors per se in its decision making? ie if an application meets all economic criteria in terms of abstraction of revenue from others, there are no safety concerns and NR are happy there is sufficient capacity for the service to operate does the traction energy source have any bearing whatsoever on the decision to accept or reject an OAO proposal?
 

VT 390

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Surely that's different though, as west coast have a route that requires diesel (Chester/North Wales), whereas this proposal is one route that has no need for diesel?
But the Virgin now Avanti west coast London to Scotland via Birmingham services which are 221 operated do not require diesel trains which is much longer than London to Liverpool and both are entirely under wires. I do not think it is right though as electrified routes should use electric trains.
 

Clarence Yard

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Genuine question - does the ORR have any obligation to consider environmental factors per se in its decision making? ie if an application meets all economic criteria in terms of abstraction of revenue from others, there are no safety concerns and NR are happy there is sufficient capacity for the service to operate does the traction energy source have any bearing whatsoever on the decision to accept or reject an OAO proposal?
No. Environmental factors are not a valid part of the decision making process so you can't reject an application on the basis of it being diesel. It would also be discriminatory to do so, given that other operators are allowed to operate diesels under the wires or over the third rail lines.
 

Southern Dvr

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No. Environmental factors are not a valid part of the decision making process so you can't reject an application on the basis of it being diesel. It would also be discriminatory to do so, given that other operators are allowed to operate diesels under the wires or over the third rail lines.
however the other operators doing so are doing it ‘hereditary’ a bit like grandfather rights. a new operator doing so should be (not saying will be) the shown the door in this day and age.
 

Clarence Yard

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No, there is no such thing as Grandfather rights for diesel operation.

Whether that should be so or not is irrelevant to the current legal position. You can, in theory, operate diesel traction without restriction.

It will require a change of law to restrict diesel operation. And if NR tried to do it alone through Network Change it would be very expensive for them.
 

Bletchleyite

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But that might still be a cheaper solution to the New Street air quality issues than alternatives!
New St isn't really relevant to this application as they will run via the Trent Valley. But I do think TOCs' hands will be forced soon enough by cities outright banning internal combustion engined vehicles of any kind, trains included, from their central areas.
 

greatvoyager

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But the Virgin now Avanti west coast London to Scotland via Birmingham services which are 221 operated do not require diesel trains which is much longer than London to Liverpool and both are entirely under wires. I do not think it is right though as electrified routes should use electric trains.
I agree about it not being right, what I meant was that they have a route requiring diesel and will use the 221s if the have to on their other routes, but the Virgin open access shouldn't need it as it's only looking at one route which is electrified throughout.
 

greatvoyager

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however the other operators doing so are doing it ‘hereditary’ a bit like grandfather rights. a new operator doing so should be (not saying will be) the shown the door in this day and age.
Would an open access operator get priority over what stock they want to use?
 

swt_passenger

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Officially withdrawn, according to a recent post in one of the many XC threads.
Thank you for granting an extension of time for us to give further consideration to and evaluation of our open access application for the above services. As a long standing operator in UK Rail, we have valued our relationship with your organisation and we do appreciate the flexibility you have provided us with.
[…]
Consequently, and after much consideration, we have decided to suspend our application at this time, to which end, please regard this letter as formal notification of our decision to withdraw our application at this stage. At the same time, we remain committed to this railway and would look to consider re-applying in the future, once we have seen the outcome and understand the impact of the Williams Review.

https://orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/42571/open-access-application-withdrawal-2020-02-27.pdf
https://orr.gov.uk/__data/assets/pd...-access-application-withdrawal-2020-02-27.pdf
BUT maybe they jumped before being pushed. Would save the embarrassment of being turned down by ORR...
 

greatvoyager

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Officially withdrawn, according to a recent post in one of the many XC threads.

BUT maybe they jumped before being pushed. Would save the embarrassment of being turned down by ORR...
Interesting that it was withdrawn, but it does say they may consider resubmitting the application too.
 

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