West Coast Bids Are In on Friday 4 May

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LNW-GW Joint

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It seems an age since the ITT went out in January, but the four bids for the Intercity West Coast franchise were due in at noon today (extended to Friday 4 May I hear).
So the DfT now knows what goodies Virgin, First, Keolis and Abellio are offering for the next 15 years.
We have to wait till August to find out who the winner is, though we'll probably never know what the losing three suggested.
I just hope they go for something more ambitious than "as is until HS2" which seems on the face of it the likely outcome.

Just a few issues to resolve:
Will more places get a direct London service?
Will some/all the Voyagers be replaced/e-enabled?
Will the extreme fares/off-peak restrictions come down?
Will the stations get a proper upgrade?
Will the TOC fund any infrastructure upgrades (eg wiring to Chester)?
Lots of other questions.

If anybody other than Virgin wins it would usher in major changes to the wider franchise map, because (just my views):
a) if First wins they will be in pole position for practically any other franchise, especially GW and EC
b) if Keolis wins it would show DfT are quite keen on shaking up the map and allowing SNCF a big foot in the door
c) if Abellio wins it probably means cost-cutting is more important than expansion

We will soon know.
 
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Will more places get a direct London service?

No. Virgin don't want to and I doubt any of the other bidders will be more ambitious.

Will some/all the Voyagers be replaced/e-enabled?

Hopefully, but surely this primarily depends on whether the DfT give the go ahead or not?

Will the extreme fares/off-peak restrictions come down?

Definitely not. I fear that they may get even worse by the Railcard easement being withdrawn! (The bidder might decide to be a bit imaginative and introduce a Super-Off-Peak Return to fill up spare capacity on the really quiet trains, but I suspect that this will have even tighter restrictions than the Off-Peak Return).

Will the stations get a proper upgrade?

I thought this was a requirement of the franchise spec?

Will the TOC fund any infrastructure upgrades (eg wiring to Chester)?

For this I have absolutely no idea. Isn't the project still speculative?
 

HH

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DfT made a cock-up in the Franchise Agreement which affected revenue and was only discovered at the last minute. That's why it had to give an extension.

Replacing Voyagers or e-ing them will be unlikely IMO, as DfT will not guarantee rolling stock past the end of the franchise.

Infrastructure is possible, providing someone can actually get funding. DfT will not fund anything beyond the life of the franchise.

I would expect some ticket flexibility being introduced, but the current railcard situation must surely go; it makes no sense from either revenue or crowding perspectives. A cynical man might think that it was sandbagging by Virgin to understate their revenue.
 

WCMLaddict

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They were due today, but the DfT have extended the deadline until Friday 4th May.

That's what I thought.

I said it in other thread, DfT has made it very clear, by choosing Abellio for GA franchise, that they care the most about the money. My logic can be wrong, but I would assume that the state-owned companies like Abellio or part state-owned like Keolis are in the best position to make financially strong bids.

I'm just trying to be smart ;)
 

HH

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I'm betting on Virgin to retain, but SNCF are the dark horses - after all Alstom are French and may be inclined to let them have a special deal...
 

YorkshireBear

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That's what I thought.

I said it in other thread, DfT has made it very clear, by choosing Abellio for GA franchise, that they care the most about the money. My logic can be wrong, but I would assume that the state-owned companies like Abellio or part state-owned like Keolis are in the best position to make financially strong bids.

I'm just trying to be smart ;)

You could be right but i am just going to put another swing on that information.
They didn't want anyone to come in and try change everything during the olympics. It is a 2 year (?? i think) franchise and management not investment so if they win the 15 year franchise after, then i definitely agree with you but for now im gonna hold back on that judgement. You never know they might just want a cheap steady pair of hands just to get through the next few years. Which (god forbid) they have actually done, i would actually be impressed.
 

WCMLaddict

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I'm betting on Virgin to retain, but SNCF are the dark horses - after all Alstom are French and may be inclined to let them have a special deal...

I've heard that VT has burnt a lot of bridges during their reign.

A quote from a former top management person of a company holding few franchises "Richard Branson f****d up railways" :lol:
 
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All Line Rover

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I'd like Virgin to win for the sake of maintaining the franchise's high levels of customer service, but I have my doubts about this happening.

If Abellio or Keolis win the franchise, I suspect they'll:
  • Hike up fares as high as possible
  • Remove the Railcard easement
  • Convert Coach D on Super Voyager's back to (much less comfortable) Standard Class formation
  • Remove The Shop
  • Downgrade First Class to XC levels
  • And perhaps even scrap the "VT Only" fares
 

David

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If Abellio or Keolis win the franchise, I suspect they'll:
  • And perhaps even scrap the "VT Only" fares

I think that will be a dead cert seeing as it won't be Virgin Trains ;)

Disclaimer before I get jumped upon by people demanding to know the outcome of the bidding process. I don't. I'm merely responding to the IF scenario posted above.
 

All Line Rover

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I think that will be a dead cert seeing as it won't be Virgin Trains ;)

Disclaimer before I get jumped upon by people demanding to know the outcome of the bidding process. I don't. I'm merely responding to the IF scenario posted above.

I was thinking that as I typed it, but "WCML-franchise-holder-only fares" just sounds silly. ;)
 

Pen Mill

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Just a few issues to resolve:

Will some/all the Voyagers be replaced/e-enabled?
Replacement of 10 year old sets ? I doubt it somehow .
I don't know what a standard lease period is for trains , is there one ? 15/20/25 years ?

a) if First wins they will be in pole position for practically any other franchise, especially GW and EC

Is there a monopoly position in rail franchising which would allow this ? or would this be new territory ?
 

sprinterguy

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Replacement of 10 year old sets ? I doubt it somehow .
I don't know what a standard lease period is for trains , is there one ? 15/20/25 years ?
The 221s are contracted to be operated by the West Coast franchise until 31st December 2016 or somewhere thereabouts. After which, the incumbent WCML operator could specify alternative rolling stock to replace them and the displaced 221s could perhaps be re-allocated with the rest of the 220s and 221s at Crosscountry. Nobody suggested that they would be withdrawn from service completely.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Replacement of 10 year old sets ? I doubt it somehow .
I don't know what a standard lease period is for trains , is there one ? 15/20/25 years ?
Is there a monopoly position in rail franchising which would allow this ? or would this be new territory ?

The WC Voyager lease is up in 2016.

Nothing to stop First winning, but they would then extend continuously from Penzance, Swansea and Brighton to Kings Lynn, Newcastle and Wick (via London, Manchester and Glasgow/Edinburgh).
More cross country than Cross Country?
Of course, they might not retain GW/TL/TP.
 

YorkshireBear

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The WC Voyager lease is up in 2016.

Nothing to stop First winning, but they would then extend continuously from Penzance, Swansea and Brighton to Kings Lynn, Newcastle and Wick (via London, Manchester and Glasgow/Edinburgh).
More cross country than Cross Country?
Of course, they might not retain GW/TL/TP.

You can already travel with first all the way from wick/thurso to penzance.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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You can already travel with first all the way from wick/thurso to penzance.

Yes but not seriously (who would want to double back via Doncaster to Manchester en route, and only a few daily connections?).
Adding WC would give them a big slice of long-distance travel, and a monopoly on the northern half of the WCML.

I'm not saying I want it to happen, just pointing out the quirks of the franchise system and the short list.
None of the other bidders could offer anything close.
 

YorkshireBear

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Yes but not seriously (who would want to double back via Doncaster to Manchester en route, and only a few daily connections?).
Adding WC would give them a big slice of long-distance travel, and a monopoly on the northern half of the WCML.

I'm not saying I want it to happen, just pointing out the quirks of the franchise system and the short list.
None of the other bidders could offer anything close.

I was thinking scotrail sleeper to london :/ a lot more direct.

But i do agree, it would give them a major rail market in this country and to be fair, there isn't a fanchise they have had that i personally have had any problems with.
 

Pen Mill

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The WC Voyager lease is up in 2016.
Thanks ,so that looks like 15 years as they probably went on finance in 2001.

As an aside that's actually a very short term in which to write equipment off and goes someway to explaining high fares to me.
I'm assuming that the Rosco is charging full capital value + interest right down to a peppercorn rent.

If a replacement policy for Super voyagers were considered , it would be 10 years into the 15 when the new franchise ended.
If as someone mentioned , DfT won't guarantee beyond the end of the franchise in 2026 then could a major refurb / re-engine be an option for a lesser 10 year write-off period ?
 

WatcherZero

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No it will be a 30 year writeoff with the Dft guarenteeing they will be leased for 15, i.e. for the second half of their lives the ROSCO would have to find a new leaser if they became unwanted.

Recouping investment beyond the length of the franchise is also in and I expect a heavily hyped lick of paint will be part of the award press release. Im still campaigning for and praying for proper investment in rebuilding Wigan NW giving it a canopy and more platforms but from what ive heard beyond the current lick of paint program their unambitiously looking at just renumbering platforms consecutivley with Wallgate and merging the Pids data, a new glass frontage/lobby area, making Manchester terminators terminate at NW rather than Wallgate and making the walk between the two so obvious a blind man could see it (since signposts doesnt seem to work).
 
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Pen Mill

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Thank you, 30 is much more realistic but actually puts the Rosco charges in a different light.
Aside from interest income the dear Roscos will be 15 years worth of the initial expenditure out of pocket at the end of term 1 unless they have heavily front-loaded the leasing charges.

Also ,if 30 is the agreed economic life then it is highly improbable that renewal would happen.
 

Wath Yard

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I'm not too sure, with northern they have put some pretty significant improvements despite a 'no growth' franchise.

Indeed. Abellio appear to have gained a bad reputation amongst enthusiasts based on nothing at all. Northern was a no growth, and pretty much no investment franchise. They have invested, not to the extent some might like, but more than they were committed to. If FirstGroup, Stagecoach or anybody else had taken on Northern I doubt they would have invested more or the stock would be in any better shape.
 

VTPreston_Tez

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Keolis shaking up the map may just be a plan. Who knows what it brings?
They wouldn't try any funny business, it would be bad because people would be furious which would cause so much controversy, and so on and so forth until either Keolis get stripped of their franchise or up their game.
Abellio going for lowering the prices would be fantastic, maybe they could bring in some more routes (any viable ones?)
I don't really want to go into First because they generally annoy me.
 

WatcherZero

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They have never applied for additional paths/services (which they are entitled to do) whereas other tocs have.
 

Zoe

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They have never applied for additional paths/services (which they are entitled to do) whereas other tocs have.
To give some stations a direct service to London off peak may well have involved adding additional calls to current services. Would they have been able to apply to do this or were they required to just run the DfT timetable until the end of the franchise?
 

tbtc

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Keolis shaking up the map may just be a plan. Who knows what it brings?
They wouldn't try any funny business, it would be bad because people would be furious which would cause so much controversy, and so on and so forth until either Keolis get stripped of their franchise or up their game

I'm really not sure I understand the point that you are trying to make here (?)
 
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