WCML InterCity Franchise

Discussion in 'UK Railway Discussion' started by Whistler40145, 19 Apr 2019.

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  1. Meerkat

    Meerkat Established Member

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    By harmonised you mean slowed down.....
     
  2. Agent_Squash

    Agent_Squash Member

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    SNCF are arguably the most experienced out of all three high speed bidders.
    Virgin/Stagecoach have done a good job on the classic side of the WCP for many years.

    Many people thought Stagecoach was the best option with the SW retender -they were probably right (with no details of the Stagecoach bid until after). Past experience with First for many is often horrific, and I say that being disappointed about losing TPE. Admittedly MTR haven’t really demonstrated their skills in the UK to make a completely sound judgement.
     
  3. The Planner

    The Planner Established Member

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    Except there is no intention within NR to do that.
     
  4. 700007

    700007 Member

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    MTR operates TfL Rail.
     
  5. Suraggu

    Suraggu Member

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    MTR as part of the SWR are purely financial backers.
     
  6. coppercapped

    coppercapped Established Member

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    I know that the DfT works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform, but I don't understand the need for the WCML/HS2 TOC to include an experienced operator of high speed trains. What is the rationale? As I see it:
    • the TOC has no direct responsibility for train maintenance as these days that is mostly done by the manufacturer. While it needs to have a good understanding of the engineering principles it doesn't need to know the details of train design and maintenance tolerances
    • whichever company builds and maintains the trains will have had many years experience in operating trains at speeds above 125mph. This, above all, is the company that needs high speed experience and is the primary contact point for train safety
    • British Railways managed a 25% increase in top speed without anyone holding its hand when the High Speed Trains entered service in 1976. Arguably vehicle dynamics are better understood now[1]
    • as far as the TOC is concerned all that happens is that the train reaches the end of its journey in less time
    • track maintenance plays a critical rôle in the comfort and safety of operations. The infrastructure duty holder is not, currently, part of the TOC[2].
    My suspicion is that the DfT wanted to avoid the situation that if any issues arose when HS2 opens they couldn't be placed at its door. It did this by publicly demonstrating it had taken all possible steps requiring that the selected bidder had 'high speed' experience. This fear of something embarrassing any future Secretary of State meant that such a requirement becomes 'policy' - at which point all common sense flies out of the window.

    Am I right, or am I right? :?: <(

    [1] With the possible exception of the sudden loud bangs which every so often come from under Hitachi's Class 80X trains.
    [2] But the results of the Williams review may more closely integrate operations and infrastructure in some manner.

    Edit: bits added for completeness!
     
    Last edited: 20 Apr 2019
  7. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    The DfT keep banging about HS2 being "world class".
    For the TOC I should think that means things like safety, ticketing and PR, roll-out skills, integration with existing services, and how to work with several infrastructure providers (and the winner of the rolling stock competition).
    Of the WCP bidders, Virgin/Stagecoach/SNCF probably came closest to those skills, with Virgin's airline experience and SNCF's high speed.

    MTR/Guangshen run a high frequency but fairly short and simple line (90 miles), with what looks like low fares and high custom.
    The service is complicated by being closely linked to the Chinese high-speed network model; MTR seems to have a minor role.

    Trenitalia has a good high speed network (with competition from NTV), but it's a state setup and the major decisions must have been taken long ago by the government.
    Their high speed safety record is good, but elsewhere in Italy there have been recent mishaps.

    RENFE's network is similar, with many rolling stock types, plus the added complication of dual gauge for through services to the classic network.
    They don't run anything like a clockface timetable, and seem to be to be a take-it-or-leave it operator rather than customer-focussed.
    RENFE has a bad high speed accident on its hands at Santiago de Compostela in 2013, in the transition from high speed to classic running.

    But then DB had Eschede in 1998 and SNCF had Eckwersheim in 2015 (LGV being tested).
    Losing Stagecoach and pals may have been necessary, but the competition is the poorer without them.
     
  8. Ianno87

    Ianno87 Established Member

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    Plus reduced speed means increased headways means reduced capacity, unless the whole WCML is re-signalled (which would be daft given the modernity of the signaling).
     
  9. Agent_Squash

    Agent_Squash Member

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    TfL Rail is a concession, not a franchise. And Crossrail is a totally different ballgame to WCP anyway.

    Aren’t some initiatives such as platform zones coming over from MTR?
     
  10. Western Lord

    Western Lord Member

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    The reverse of what you state is true, otherwise high density metro systems wouldn't work.
     
  11. The Planner

    The Planner Established Member

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    Metro signals aren't spaced for 125mph though
     
  12. Plethora

    Plethora Member

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    What is the signalling like north of Crewe/Stoke? Is there scope for 'harmonisation' in that stretch?
     
  13. The Planner

    The Planner Established Member

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    Yes, as pretty much all of it is due for renewal so it will be designed for whatever the strategic need is deemed to be when it is resignalled.
     
  14. coppercapped

    coppercapped Established Member

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    I'm not quite sure if your post was meant to be in reply to mine (#36) immediately above yours! Assuming it was then my comment on those things which you list
    is that none of these points have anything to do with the speed of the trains. They are true for many franchises - including gWr and LNER which have had the IEP trains issued to them and the Kent franchise which uses both Network Rail and HS1 infrastructure.

    I can see no reason, apart from bottom-covering political ones, for insisting on including an existing high speed train operator in the TOC's holding company. As you point out safety can't be part of it.

    The whole process of planning and building HS2 is back to front - it is almost identical to the situation when the Channel Tunnel was built. In that case building the tunnel took priority and the method of operating the tunnel took a back seat. The operator, Eurotunnel (now Getlink), was set up by Transmanche Link the international consortium of contractors building the tunnel and it had to deal with whatever the builders had decided to build. One of the results was many years of less than stellar financial performance for which the original shareholders in Eurotunnel paid handsomely - including me! :'(
     
  15. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    And me! At least it got built.
    I think part of the DfT's policy is (or was when they advertised WCP) to get more external interest in franchises.
    The process did get SNCF (rather than secondary Keolis), Trenitalia, RENFE and Guangshen involved, and Trenitalia has gone so far as to buy out c2c from National Express to increase its chances.
    But DB, maybe the best external bidder, didn't bite (or left it to Arriva who failed to reach the short list) and seem on their way out of the UK.

    Alignment of WCP TOC and NR Route seems tricky on the West Coast, with a robust regional operator (WMT) embedded in the south, and complications in the north with TPE and Northern, not to mention the lion's share of the nation's freight traffic on the route.
    The same NR Route also runs the competing line from Birmingham into Marylebone.
    Interesting times.
     
  16. LUYMun

    LUYMun Member

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    They should merge London North Western Railway and the West Coast franchise together.
     
  17. Jorge Da Silva

    Jorge Da Silva Established Member

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    I think they planned to do that hence why the West Midlands Franchise is two different businesses
     
  18. Great_Western

    Great_Western Member

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    Would First actually be that bad?

    SWR isn't doing to well but you could equally lay the blame on MTR for that. TPE always seem to be a very well run franchise and personally I don't see much issue with GWR either, I use GWR regularly and find it pretty good. Meanwhile, their bus operation is improving rapidly.
     
  19. 43074

    43074 Established Member

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    How can you blame MTR? Yes it's a First/MTR consortium running it, but to be honest performance standards were declining well before First/MTR took over SWR and misunderstandings between DfT & NR during the franchise procurement process resulted in the bid being undeliverable. MTR are there to provide financial support really, I suspect they have very little to do with the day to day running of it.
     
  20. TT-ONR-NRN

    TT-ONR-NRN On Moderation

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    First aren’t that awful. Yes South Western Railway is a bit troublesome but Great Western Railway are very good, although on the whole their staff are pretty rude. Then again, the staff can be rather impolite on CrossCountry too, so not just First there.
     
  21. 700007

    700007 Member

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    South Western Railway is basically a First franchise. As aforementioned, MTR provides financial and legal support when needed but really First is running the whole show. All of the senior directors if I am correct at SWR are First employees, including Managing Director Andrew Mellors.
     
  22. 43096

    43096 Established Member

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    Just laughable. The Great Western franchise has been pretty much badly run from day one, by Great Western Holdings and WorstGroup. There have been periods when it has been reasonably good (notably under Mike Carroll and Chris Kinchin-Smith’s leadership, but also noting the recovery under Andrew Haines), but it has otherwise been poor for a sustained period.

    My preference for WCP would have been Stagecoach, but I’m now thinking anyone but Worst.
     
  23. Bertie the bus

    Bertie the bus Established Member

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    No, that would be the worst possible thing to do. One operator would mean one fare. LNWR offer some very good value fares if you don’t mind a longer journey and these would be abolished as there would be no commercial reason to offer them.
    Are you sure? I was under the impression the split was so the WMCA could take over / take a more active role in overseeing the WMR part.
     
  24. Jorge Da Silva

    Jorge Da Silva Established Member

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    The DfT mentioned that they could split the franchise. One West Midlands Railway would be a stand-alone franchise and the other London North Western Railway which would merge with the West Coast Franchise. So it was split into two businesses in preparation for this.
     
  25. Jorge Da Silva

    Jorge Da Silva Established Member

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    Personally for me I would be interested to see what MTR and Renfe can do.
     
  26. 43096

    43096 Established Member

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    Why does it mean one fare? GTR operate Southern, Gatwick Express and Thameslink brands, but there are different fares.
     
  27. 700007

    700007 Member

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    Because reasonably soon they will be back into at least two different franchises which would be a useless move if they offered every ticket at exactly the same price. GTR also doesn't get paid any of the revenue, that goes straight to DfT. For that reason, GTR has no incentive or interest to change the fare box at all.
     
  28. 700007

    700007 Member

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    I also do not agree with the idea of merging London Northwestern and West Coast into one franchise. As previously mentioned, whilst they go to common destinations such as London, Birmingham and Liverpool, they are kept competitive by appealing to two different markets.

    Incumbent Virgin Trains promotes a fast and glam service, but only if you pay a glamorous price. London Northwestern Railway promotes a more cheap and cheerful approach, and the real cost is spending an hour or two extra on their train.

    I would agree though that after HS2 one or two services from Virgin Trains / whoever is operating West Coast at the time transfers over to London Northwestern such as all of the London to Birmingham terminators.
     
  29. ForTheLoveOf

    ForTheLoveOf Established Member

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    Much though I agree with the sentiment, the reality is that existing West Coast franchise services will stop more and will thus become more like the semifast LNR services we have now. One of the main aims of Phase 1 of HS2 is to increase capacity on the WCML south of Rugby, thus an integrated timetable between West Coast and LNR is required in order to make the most of this. West Coast may become the new LNR in terms of fares.
     
  30. 185

    185 Established Member

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    I should point out that my favourite transport group (ahem) has recently struggled to pay it's instalments to the DfT for Transpennine and was initially suggesting a renegotiation of the terms on which they won their franchise. MTR has been far more financially stable for the last decade, and not been flogging bus companies to stay afloat.

    Seeing the recent shenanigans regarding Abellio being emailed some of Stagecoach's bid for EM reminds me of another faux-pas. About ten years ago, within the DfT there was (allegedly) an unofficial group calling itself "Anyone but First" which was unfortunately quickly shut down after an memo was sent out to it's staff.
     
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