Virgin West Coast Open Access Application

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by andyj158, 11 Jun 2019.

  1. KashmireHawker

    KashmireHawker Member

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    It is a clear fight for survival knowing the imminent WCP announcement.

    I suspect the ORR knowing VTWC's consistent rejections of Open Operators applications will throw this one off the cliff.
     
  2. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    It did cross my mind too that maybe this is a publicity stunt (assuming it's even been reported accurately). I'm less cynical about Virgin - I don't think they are too bad as an operator. But this proposal seems so unlikely to be accepted (no paths on the WCML, probably no stock to run it with - and it's obvious that it would abstract revenue from the London-Liverpool market) - that I can't think of any other plausible likely motive.
     
  3. CosherB

    CosherB On Moderation

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    I find the final sentence of the LE article interesting, if true:

    "Virgin hopes the new services will generate £50m revenue each year, with the partnership to also involve Stagecoach, SNCF and Alstom."

    Isn't this the bidding team for the WCP that Virgin fronted?
     
  4. KashmireHawker

    KashmireHawker Member

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    Correct.
     
  5. Jorge Da Silva

    Jorge Da Silva Established Member

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    No decision on rolling stock. They will NOT use Class 390’s as these are being transferred to WCP.

    https://www.railwaygazette.com/news...-rest-of-the-industry-how-it-can-be-done.html

     
  6. DarloRich

    DarloRich Veteran Member

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    past "guilt" cannot be used to determine an application.

    Correct.
     
  7. GB71

    GB71 Member

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    Firstly let me be clear I think VTWC is OK as an operator and I have no particular issue at all on travelling with them. My issue with it is simply that Virgin are by their nature a superb PR machine. I remember the last time when they thought First was taking Virgin's cash cow and travelling in first class we were subjected to the not so subtle Virgin-ism's in first class of miniatures of port being served with the cheese on the dinner service and ice creams being given out - all so we knew how wonderful Virgin was.

    As someone who travelled regularly on the WCML since the early 90's I don't dispute that it is now a transformed operation - I just take issue with the "brain washing" as I perceive it that somehow without that Virgin magic the WCML would still be like it was in 1997!
     
  8. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    The ORR could cause yet another lawsuit against the Government if they rejected the application merely because it's totally ironic given Virgin's past objections and protections. But I agree - knowing that the WCP is almost certainly lost (unless circumstances change dramatically), they are probably trying to keep hold of at least some services on the WCML.

    I agree, and it seems a complete waste of time when you look at the fact that they made a less ambitious application for a few extra trains per day to Liverpool a few months ago, and even this was rejected on the basis of performance risk and a lack of available paths (and rolling stock).

    Quite how they expect to get a better result when they're applying for over twice as many this time round, without any of the circumstances having changed (and if they aren't even using 390s, what paths are they seriously proposing to use?), I really don't know. But I imagine that this application is, in truth, not at all serious, and that it's purely intended to provoke PR sympathy for when the "Government overlords" reject it.

    In truth I think they should be made to pay the ORR's costs in full, twice over, to compensate them for wasting their time with what is frankly a frivolous application. Remember that it is taxpayers' money that is paying for the ORR to review this waste of time.

    Yes, it is. Effectively if they can't get in through the front door, they are trying to get in through the back door. It's a very well considered PR move, but it shows the level of dirty tactics Virgin are happy to go to.
     
  9. Japan0913

    Japan0913 On Moderation

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    Is the capacity of the existing line full until HS2 opens?
     
  10. Jorge Da Silva

    Jorge Da Silva Established Member

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    Not sure. Second operator to use 91’s on WCML after GNWR.
     
  11. Japan0913

    Japan0913 On Moderation

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    London Liverpool express delivery service
    First of all, shouldn't it be allowed to the West Midlands Trains?
     
  12. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    In the peak, south of Milton Keynes, yes. That's one of the primary raisons d'être for HS2.
     
  13. aelius

    aelius Member

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    It a way it mirrors Stagecoach tactics in the bus industry in the 1980s that led to the end of municipal bus corporations and Stagecoach’s dominance.
     
  14. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    What's dirty about it?
     
  15. Japan0913

    Japan0913 On Moderation

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    I agree.
    At least London-Birmingham needs a new line.
    I think it would be wrong to scrap the entire HS2.
     
  16. jw

    jw Member

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    I'd be astonished if, firstly, paths were available to support this, and secondly, if this passed the abstraction test.

    It's also interesting that they've teamed up with Alstom who presumably would be providing the rolling stock. A small fleet, possibly with tilt, would likely be very expensive.
     
  17. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    No, because West Midlands Trains operates routes decided by their DfT franchise. This is open access outside the franchise system.
     
  18. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Making an application which they will know perfectly well has no chances whatsoever of approval, certainly not before 2026 at the earliest. It's quite clear to me that they are doing it to make them seem the 'downtrodden saviours' of Liverpool (and the WCML's) train service, defeated by the DfT, then by the ORR... they'll be able to make a press killing from the misinformation they'll be able to produce out of the inevitable rejection.
     
  19. Japan0913

    Japan0913 On Moderation

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    Isn't open access a condition that does not threaten franchiser's business?
     
  20. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    Open access is not supposed to be “primarily abstractive” of a franchised TOCs revenue. But within that requirement it can still compete for existing revenue on a route. It’s a question of balance between growth and abstraction...
     
  21. Japan0913

    Japan0913 On Moderation

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    Anyway, if there is no capacity at HS2 partial opening, new entry or existing service expansion is OK.
     
  22. coppercapped

    coppercapped Established Member

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    I think you will find that under the conditions of the first sets of franchises the DfT required that franchisees objected to any Open Access application on their patch. In other words as part of the 'Moderation of Competition' clauses the DfT demanded that the franchisee objected - they had no choice.
     
  23. thenorthern

    thenorthern Established Member

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    Given that to achieve 125mph on the WCML trains have to have a tilt function and given that new Class 390s are not an option as they don't comply with new train standards I wonder what the proposal for stock are. Having a small batch of tilting train stock that is compliant with the UK loading gauge and standards would be prohibitively expensive for an open-access operator.

    Also I don't see how this would pass the test of not primarily abstracting revenue given that it's duplicating existing services. Also given that many Virgin Trains currently in the daytime are carting fresh air around I don't see how this service could make money.
     
  24. 3141

    3141 Established Member

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    Alstom have tilt technology (they built the class 390s), and they've been working on a suitable train for HS2 that fits the British loading gauge. Therefore they may feel they are not so far from being able to produce a new tilting train suitable for the WCML, which would not be unreasonably expensive. It's not the trains but the shortage of suitable paths that makes the Virgin proposal seem unlikely to succeed, in my opinion.
     
  25. matt_world2004

    matt_world2004 Established Member

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    The Supporting infrastructure for this will make it very difficult for it to make money 2 tph existing outside the national rail system would struggle to make money due to the high back office costs per train
     
  26. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    That would suggest that existing OAOs only survive because of an ORCATS raid. Is that right?
     
  27. jamesst

    jamesst Member

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    Anything that appears in the Liverpool Echo automatically leads me to believe it won't happen, they're very well known for printing c**p!
     
  28. Darandio

    Darandio Established Member

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  29. matt_world2004

    matt_world2004 Established Member

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    I Don't know but until recently Heathrow express made a loss despite its high ticket prices and a service that was double the frequency of this one.
     
  30. JaJaWa

    JaJaWa Established Member

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    The ex- Virgin Trains East Coast / LNER Class 91s and Mark 4s as mentioned above (limited to 110mph).
     

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