Virgin West Coast Open Access Application

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

  1. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    There's yet another aspect to this.
    Virgin have submitted a proposal to the Williams review for rail paths to be allocated in bundles to TOCs rather than in a franchise monopoly as now.
    Similar to how Italo operates in Italy, with a batch of services in competition with Trenitalia, on the same routes.
    It's also how long distance services in France are supposed to open up.
    Virgin may have its eye on HS2 services in competition with WCP, rather than on the congested WCML.
    Otherwise, why would SNCF be interested?
    It would be a real conundrum for ORR and DfT with a viable and experienced operator bidding to run non-franchised services on HS2.
    In the meantime, it throws the current competition into chaos!
     
  2. option

    option Member

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    Good post

    One thing to think about though;

    Wherever you've said West Midlands Trains, remember that they are only the current operator of the LNR franchise.
    Does that franchise have a long future?

    The Bletchley-Bedford service would become part of East-West Rail if that goes ahead.
    Or could Chiltern go for it in a similar way to Bicester-Oxford? (Bicester/Aylesbury-Bletchley)
    Or if TfL get more of the metro routes, do the southern LNR routes go to Southern?

    Or Northern collapses & gets broken/divvied up to existing franchises & PTAs. eg LNR pick up Stoke-Manchester, & stop running Stafford-Crewe direct. That opens up a few paths on that section of WCML.
     
  3. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Yes. It has only just been awarded and runs to 2026.
     
  4. Chester1

    Chester1 Established Member

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    SNCF are not part of this. A new company was created for the franchise bid, split 3 ways. That company is redundant unless the legal battle over the WCP bid is successful. This bid is by the Virgin Trains holding company (that owns the west coach franchise company). The ownership of the open access opperator would therefore be 51% Virgin group, 49% Stagecoach (unless Alstom become shareholders too).
     
  5. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    So this would be a continuation of Virgin Rail Group (effectively) rather than the branded Stagecoach operation (plus a bit of SNCF input) that would have been WCP?
     
  6. 700007

    700007 Established Member

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    1) The current assumption is that the franchise would operate stand alone when renewed in 2026 (or however many extensions down the road?). We know the status of the franchise up until the HS2 planned opening date - so about 7 years?

    2) At the moment I will say yes, the Marston Vale local Bletchley to Bedford is staying with LNR. That's something that obviously we don't know post-EWR and HS2. There is a lot of different infrastructure works taking place at both ends of the line so anything goes really. Not a bad shout to send it to Chiltern... If they want it. Although has nothing to do with, and would not affect the Virgin OA service.

    3) I know it has been suggested in the past here and there but I don't think I would ever see TfL take on any current West Midlands Trains service. There's literally only three stops they genuinely want / have a remit in / care about and that's London Euston, Wembley Central and Harrow & Wealdstone. They only run to Bushey and Watford Junction at present for the simple fact that the Watford DC can't magically be cut at Hatch End and would cause a lot of upset anyways if that happened. To go Tring or technically at least Bletchley as that's where the sidings and crew depot are, especially given their poor finances, would be a no starter. Would also see a lot of local opposition.

    4) Northern is an interesting one because the rumour is doing the rounds that they're possibly in financial trouble and may collapse. If this is the case and the services are split up and devolved to other franchises to make it more manageable, then yes I could see the likes of West Midlands Trains pick up small tidbits of work around Crewe, Manchester and Liverpool. I don't know how much they would want to radicalise the network (by absorbing these into longer distance trains to free up paths) though at the risk of jeopardising the already poor punctuality on those lines.
     
  7. option

    option Member

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    Which isn't very long...
     
  8. KashmireHawker

    KashmireHawker Member

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  9. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    It's a full 5 years into the initial running of this proposal - certainly enough for them to whack out a load of cheap Advances and sabotage it for Mr Branson...
     
  10. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    The only way they are likely to get involved in "mainline" WCML services would be if the "Crossrail to Tring/Watford" proposal ever happened - but as noted there is indeed a fair bit of opposition to that among current users of the south WCML, many of whom do actually like boarding at a terminus as it makes things rather less of a bunfight.

    I suppose they could run a 2tph 25kV Watford shuttle instead of LNR calling south of there (using LO units rather than Desiros), but I can't see that happening.
     
  11. nuneatonmark

    nuneatonmark Member

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    An incredibly cynical and hypocritical move by Virgin. They do everything then can to make life difficult for other open access operators then decide that open access isn’t that bad after all. Then, despite screwing all the Trent Valley stations for the last 11 years, decide they are our friends after all despite the fact they could have easily run many more services to Nuneaton (That small town of nearly 100000 people), Tamworth (another small town of 60000) and Lichfield (a really small town of about 30000). I hope they are told to eff off! Not that I think they have any chance of pulling it off though, just sounds like sour grapes.
     
  12. s'land

    s'land Member

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    The Sunderland route makes money, or it certainly used to, but I don't know how the Bradford services are financially.
     
  13. Chester1

    Chester1 Established Member

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    The access application is by Virgin Trains Ltd which was previously used for rail related commercial stuff but not as a ToC. As of last years accountants it was soley owned by Virgin Rail Group, which is 51% owned by Virgin Group and 49% Stagecoach. Virgin Rail Group is also the sole owner of Virgin Trains West Coast i.e. the ToC. Virgin Trains East Coast was not owned by it but instead directly by the two parent companies (10% Virgin Group and 90% Stagecoach). Alstom and SNCF may become shareholders in Virgin Trains Ltd but they may just be commercial partners of some sort.
     
  14. jzw95

    jzw95 Member

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    Or at a future date, Virgin Group could sell some of its shareholding in Virgin Rail Group to SNCF and Alstom. They’ve done this with other companies they used to have a majority shareholding in (eg selling some of their 51% in Virgin Atlantic to Air France-KLM).
     
  15. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    Deleted.
     
  16. glynmonhughes

    glynmonhughes Member

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    Why would you necessarily lose walk-up customers? I have frequently used TGV services in France - though in recent years I've booked online - but prior to the online service it was possible to buy a ticket and check at a concourse ticketing machine whether a seat was available for the particular train you wished to use up to a few minutes before travelling. I don't know whether this service is still available in France but it is not that much different, surely, from self-check-in facilities available at airports where, if you have not checked in online, you are able to select a seat for the flight on which you are travelling. Just a thought . . .
     
  17. glynmonhughes

    glynmonhughes Member

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    They did and they were not successful. That have now been withdrawn. Notably, BA services Manchester to Heathrow are a shadow of their former selves and really only serve as feeders to long-haul out of LHR. There was a time, of course, when BA and BMI ran almost an hourly service from MAN to LHR. (There's also no longer a service from MAN to Gatwick, but that's another story . . . )
     
  18. Old Yard Dog

    Old Yard Dog Member

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    In my experience, flights from MAN to LHR and LGW were always very unreliable punctuality wise, particularly later in the day. We have missed international connections in London twice flying from MAN. So the first thing I check for in any travel insurance policy is coverage against "Missed international departure". The airlines only cover you if you have a through ticket from Manchester to your final destination. Me and the missus have taken to National Express coaches in recent years due to the near impossibility of getting to LHR by rail without multiple changes and/or being ripped off for peak fares.
     
  19. frodshamfella

    frodshamfella Established Member

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    I find its hardly worth flying to LHR from MAN due to check in slow, queues ,traffic on motorway to get there. Its easier to jump on train at Runcorn to London then.over to Paddington.
     
    Last edited: 14 Jun 2019
  20. mark-h

    mark-h Member

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    Were these dynamically priced? I would be very reluctant to start a journey without knowing what the cost of my return trip would be.
     
  21. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    SNCF have just switched to dynamic pricing, but previous to that they had different sort-of-yield-managed fares with different change/refund conditions. There does however seem to be a "maximum fare" a bit like the Anytime that while it does require reservations allows unlimited changes or a refund. So you do know what the most it'll be is, it's not like Sleasyjet or Ryanair who can crank it up to ten grand if they feel like.
     
  22. takno

    takno Established Member

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    I suspect they were just reservation systems with a normally-priced ticket. In principle that takes away the issue of not having to pick your train in advance. In practice however you'd probably turn up 10 minutes before your train to discover that all the seats had been sold at dynamic prices and the first train you could actually get on was a next Tuesday, so see you then.
     
  23. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    The way you work with compulsory reservations is to book the latest train you are likely to need, then move earlier if this later becomes possible. That way you don't get stranded.
     
  24. takno

    takno Established Member

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    That may be the way you work with compulsory reservations. I don't work with them at all thank you
     
  25. Class 170101

    Class 170101 Established Member

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    Regarding the Class 390s are they not up for grabs come the end of the end of the current franchise? If Virgin make a good offer to the owner of the trains then it wouldn't matter what the WCP bidders said if their offer for the Pendolinos wasn't enough?
     
  26. Chester1

    Chester1 Established Member

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    It is highly unlikely that an open access operator could afford to outbid whoever wins the franchise. By the time the application has been accepted or rejected the new opperator will have signed leases on all of them. For tilting stock its new build or nothing.
     
  27. CosherB

    CosherB On Moderation

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    Pendolinos have ‘protected’ status AFAIK for the first couple of years of the WCP franchise. Rumours are that the MTR consortium wants total fleet replacement.
     
  28. coppercapped

    coppercapped Established Member

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    As I
    As I posted earlier in this thread, the DfT in the franchise contracts require that the incumbent franchisee objects to any Open Access applications. The rationale is to protect the premium payments made by the franchisee to the DfT, or alternatively to stop the subsidy from increasing. Virgin had no alternative than to oppose the applications.

    Equally the stopping patterns and number of seats offered by the franchisee are defined by the DfT in the franchise contract. TOCs have very little, if any, freedom to modify their offerings.

    I find it remarkable that people still have not understood these basic truths although they have been posted many times in this and other forums and magazines.
     
  29. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    RAIL (so the usual health warnings apply) have reported that Virgin intend to use 91s and shorter rakes of Mk4s to give higher acceleration but a top speed of 110mph on their new service.
     
  30. Darandio

    Darandio Established Member

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    Looks like Richard Clinnick has been reading the forum again.
     

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