West Coast franchise deal is platform for massive growth

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Humberside

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Virgin Rail Group (VRG) announced on 13 December that it has agreed formal terms for a reinstated contract with the Department for Transport (DfT) for its West Coast rail franchise as it continues a period of massive increases in customer numbers.

The franchise deal starts immediately and will run until March 2012, replacing the Management Agreement (Letter Agreement 2002) which has been in place since July 2002 following the collapse of Railtrack plc.

Under the deal, VRG plans to increase the number of passenger journeys from 20m a year in 2006/07 to more than 30m a year in 2011/12 on the West Coast routes between London Euston and the West Midlands, the North West, Cumbria and Scotland. Under separate proposals, VRG is discussing with the DfT the feasibility of adding two extra cars to each of its 53 nine-car Pendolino trains, which would provide a further 10m seats to meet expected demand.

Already the West Coast is showing some of the biggest rises in customer numbers on the rail network, and there are plans for even greater growth when thousands more train services a month are added from December 2008, once Network Rail has completed the last stage of the West Coast Main Line modernisation project.

In 2005/6, customer numbers grew by 21 percent, the biggest increase in the rail industry, and similar growth figures are continuing on much of the West Coast. From December 2008 the number of daily train services will increase by 32 percent, and there will be around 10m extra seats available a year compared to now. Three trains an hour will operate from London to Birmingham and London to Manchester (currently two per hour). A new hourly service will operate from London to Chester with more - and faster - trains from London to Scotland and Birmingham to Scotland.

In addition, from December 2008, weekend services will change massively, with almost double the number of trains operating on Sundays subject to final agreement with Network Rail.

VRG Chief Executive Officer, Tony Collins said: "This is great news for Virgin and for the rail industry. We can now focus on further improving rail services on the West Coast Main Line and providing long-distance inter city train services that build on the successes to date. "With rail providing a real environmental benefit over other transport modes, coupled with the further increases in services and reductions in journey time from 2008, we expect to see even more customers vote with their feet and desert domestic airlines, as they do their bit to reduce their personal carbon footprint."

West Coast Mainline will receive an average of £259m in payments each year until 31 March 2012. The support payment is mainly to contribute to Network Rail track access charges, which have risen steeply to more than £400million each year as a result of the £8.6billion cost of the West Coast Mainline modernisation project.

The Management Agreement was set up in 2002 following the financial collapse of Railtrack and changes to the West Coast Main Line modernisation project which prevented VRG operating a frequent 140mph train service as originally proposed.
http://www.therailwaycentre.com/UK News Pages Dec 06/131206_VT.html

The thing with the new franchise is that Class 221's will operate udner the wires all the way from Birmingham to Scotland which is a bit of a waste when they could be used by the new cross country franchise. I know there is no spare electric stock now but I think it wouldn't be a bad idea for some more Pendolinos to be ordered for Birmingham-Scotland
 
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devon_metro

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Indeed, it also means that XC have less trains. Looks like we could have HSTs back for good.
 

Mojo

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Why does this franchise need such a large subsidy? They've recieved massive growth so that most of their trains are full. I've seen trains leave Birmingham/Coventry in the morning with standees, (presumably paying a fortune to do so) and according to reports they'll need to lengthen trains to 11Coaches. If First GW can pay a premium, run loss-making branchlines *and* increase the number of high speed services (which IME carry significantly less pax than the more frequent West Coast InterCity services), why cant VT?
 

87015

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Indeed, it also means that XC have less trains. Looks like we could have HSTs back for good.

Apparently the Virgin Franchise bid includes plans for seven HST sets. Although its not said where they are going to get these sets from...

Can see some mega stock merry-go-rounds next year lining up these new franchises!
 

Guinness

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The thing with the new franchise is that Class 221's will operate udner the wires all the way from Birmingham to Scotland which is a bit of a waste when they could be used by the new cross country franchise. I know there is no spare electric stock now but I think it wouldn't be a bad idea for some more Pendolinos to be ordered for Birmingham-Scotland

I was under the impression that Birmingham - Scotland was going to be scrapped in New Cross Country. 221s are going to be used for Holyhead trains to release 2 Pendolinos of this route.

Not all 221s will go to West Coast as the Holyhead service doesn't require around 40 trains.

XC90s may not be around when new XC is started. With the loss of Manchester - Scotland and Birmingham - Scotland and trains south of Gatwick Airport they will be a lot of Voyagers around and perhaps some of these will end up on former Central CityLink routes.

Virgin need subsidy to pay for Track Access Charges. I have no figures for it so I can't really comment on it.

11 Coaches is definately needed. The growth is too much for the current system to handle. I'm guessing that this will be 2 MSO to keep up with timings, making sets [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]DMS+MS(D)+TPS+MS(D)+TS+MS(D)+MS+MF+TPF+MF(D)+DMFK (From therailwaycentre.com).[/FONT]
 

class 313

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I dont see why VT got rid of their HST sets if they need them back, I guess they would want some back from MML wich is bad as MML need more HSTs not less ;)
 

Nick W

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I would add that this was nothing to do with Virgin, and the failure of the WCML can be put firmly at the doorstep of former Railtrack managers.

While I am pleased that DfT finally managed to get it persued, do the Government not also have a large share of the blame?

I also wonder how much extra a year the pendalinos cost the taxpayer a year. Probably far more than they would under a nationalised network.

Also, it seems that a huge cost is compensation, and the cost of those who work it out.
 

Guinness

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I dont see why VT got rid of their HST sets if they need them back, I guess they would want some back from MML wich is bad as MML need more HSTs not less ;)

VT got rid of them because they were going to replace each franchise with a single type of Rolling Stock. It's called Standardisation and saves quite a bit of money. Low Cost Airlines such as Ryanair have a single fleet type so they save money on maintenance, training pilots etc.

Virgin never predicted that they would need them back as they thought Voyagers were adequate cover. Because of Virgin's huge Growth (200% on some XC journeys) Voyagers couldn't handle it. VXC wanted to extend Voyager sets but the SRA said no. Again Government interference costing the passenger.

MML got more HSTs from Project Rio but since they ordered 9 Car sets and there Leeds service got rejected they've started to replace some HST runs with Meridians. A debated move but that's not really applicable here.
 

Guinness

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I also wonder how much extra a year the pendalinos cost the taxpayer a year. Probably far more than they would under a nationalised network.

Next to nothing. Passenger pay for the Pendolinos and they're running. Subsidy (Taxpayer) pays for the Track Access charges.

Nationalised Network is much cheaper but had a huge problem. Under investment meant a poor condition of Trains/Track/Stations. Now they're multi-million pound projects to renew and invest in the infrastructure something which has been neglected by BR for years.
 

class 313

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Yes Alex but more are being replaced...

MML got more HSTs from Project Rio but since they ordered 9 Car sets and there Leeds service got rejected they've started to replace some HST runs with Meridians. A debated move but that's not really applicable here.

Those sets have been given to FGW, and MML have tamperd with the Meridians by putting a extra car onto the 4 car Meridians making 9 cars into 8 cars.
 

CallySleeper

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I was under the impression that Birmingham - Scotland was going to be scrapped in New Cross Country. 221s are going to be used for Holyhead trains to release 2 Pendolinos of this route.

Not all 221s will go to West Coast as the Holyhead service doesn't require around 40 trains.

Birmingham - Scotland via Oxenholme TLD is being scrapped. Also, under the new WC TT, Euston - Chester will be hourly 221s with some extended to Holyhead Caergybi and Llandudno. This service would require about 8 units - which may be extended to 6 coaches.
 

devon_metro

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So its ok for the celebrity for the West Coast to have 6 car Vomits and not having to pay taxes, where everybody else suffers.

XC have needed 6 car voyager for ages.

The ways the government works are beyong me, some total toss pots.
 

devon_metro

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I've just seen that WC might get up to 22 super voyagers!

How is this going to help XC. The super voyagers provide the most capacity on the busy XC network. I don't know how they will cope as XC already have train shortages!
 

voyagerdude220

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How busy are these hourly Euston-Chester services going to be exactly?

Why not increase the amount of connecting Crewe to Chester/Llandudno/Holyhead ATW services, and make them all/ most of them connect with the frequent enough Euston to Crewe 390's?

If you wanted even more Crewe to Eustons for whatever reason, how about a once every 2-hours Manchester to/from Euston via Wilmslow & Crewe?

IMO I'm just angry that VWC gets most needed capacity upgrades which they need, whilst VXC sits there running their Voyagers/ Super Voyagers with 4/5 coaches needing the extra coaches, which VWC will probably get when they nick 221s from VXC!
 

devon_metro

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I can't think what is going to plug the gap. They are already seriously short and where are they going to get 20 HST sets?
 

Ascot

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The pendo Holyhead route (about 10 past 2 dep Holyhead) has been requested as a pendo due to the catering services. Something to do with the law and businesses that keep that run a 390. Heard it from a HHD station manager.

Holyhead to Chester is an hourly service on ATW with the special manchester route, Llandudno to Man is hourly so between Llandudno Jct and Chester it's half hourly service, plus with a few VTs stuck somewhere that makes it quite frequent. Chester to Crewe is already half an hr on shuttles and ex Holyheads. Plus with the new Wrexham London services running soon that's alot of trains up North Wales. Apart from Sundays as that's just a joke and a half. Only thing i can see Virgin getting something out is bring back the Shrewsburys and extend them via Crewe, Chester and NW.

EDIT: Also Holyhead runs are just really for the ferrys as theirs naff all, locals on Anglesey either go Bangor or Holyhead shopping but someone won't want to go Holyhead for a day out who lives in Chester or Crewe or even London. Just a ferry run.
 

Guinness

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How is this going to help XC. The super voyagers provide the most capacity on the busy XC network. I don't know how they will cope as XC already have train shortages!

XC routes are been cut to reduce the amount of trains. XC North of Crewe / Manchester has gone freeing up a number of sets. XC south of Gatwick has gone freeing up a couple of sets.

They will gain a handful of Turbostars for the Stopping Routes and may get some 180s from FGW.
 

Flying Snail

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I'd lay money on those north wales pendolino runs being pushed on Virgin by some local big wigs with connections.

The 14.14 from Holyhead must be in the running for the emptiest train arriving in Euston, probably only beaten by the even more insane train (Voyager operated I think) that follows 20 minutes later from Llandudno.

The preceeding ATW train takes all the ferry passengers and in the summer is often standing room only meanwhile I have twice had a carriage all to myself on the pendo as far as Chester and even then only a handful of people were on it. Total waste of a full length train.

Sundays are just pathetic. It is impossible to get from London to the 14.10 or 15.30 ferries and even the 17.10 is a close call.
 
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