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What changes could be made to franchises, concessions, and brandings going forward?

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Mrwerdna1

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Moderator note: Split from https://www.railforums.co.uk/thread...ses-ermas-to-concessions.211500/#post-4973503

Am I right in thinking that if indeed franchises are dead and the DfT will in the long-run move towards a concession based model, we won't get livery/name changes every 5 years? I could definitely get used to that to be honest. I've always preferred the livery & name "continuity" of long-running franchises (such as Southern, Scotrail) or concession-based operations (Tfl rail, London Overground, Metrolink etc.).

That being said, I'll be interested to see how a concession based model would work on a national scale. Though Tfl Rail, Merseyrail and Metrolink all appear to offer both better service and greater reliability than most franchises, their network size and complexity is hardly comparable to most major national rail franchises today (especially ones as complex as Great Western or West Coast).

Does anyone think they might split up or rearrange the area that the current franchises cover (i.e. break regional services down into smaller chunks that could be partially run by local authorities). It's certainly what some officials such as Andy Burnham have been calling for for years (not saying that it's a good idea necessarily). In that scenario, TfGM (or a conglomerate of county authorities) would regulate the operation of most local services in the area (and award concession contracts), while the DfT would regulate long-distance intercity services in and out of the Greater Manchester area, just to name one example here.
 
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Nicholas Lewis

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Am I right in thinking that if indeed franchises are dead and the DfT will in the long-run move towards a concession based model, we won't get livery/name changes every 5 years? I could definitely get used to that to be honest. I've always preferred the livery & name "continuity" of long-running franchises (such as Southern, Scotrail) or concession-based operations (Tfl rail, London Overground, Metrolink etc.).

That being said, I'll be interested to see how a concession based model would work on a national scale. Though Tfl Rail, Merseyrail and Metrolink all appear to offer both better service and higher reliability than most franchises, their network size and complexity is hardly comparable to most major national rail franchises today (especially ones as complex as Great Western or West Coast).

Does anyone think they might split up or rearrange the area that the current franchises cover (i.e. break regional services down into smaller chunks that could be partially run by local authorities). It's certainly what some officials such as Andy Burnham have been calling for for years (not saying that it's a good idea necessarily). In that scenario, TfGM (or a conglomerate of county authorities) would regulate the operation of most local services in the area (and award concession contracts), while the DfT would regulate long-distance intercity services in and out of the Greater Manchester area.
I certainly hope that services are branded to encourage ridership and regionalisation identity but in effect they will be govt operators so words like First need to be removed from identity and just left as a small vinyl on one coach saying who the operator is.

They should also completely remap the UK although in reality this is just England now and regional services around the big city conurbations should be a concession from TfGM for instance like MerseyRail. Everything that's left should be given to an enlarged cross country operator for non london city to city routes ie TPE has no relevance its routes need to be disbursed.

I would also advocate InterCity coming back as a national brand with one or more concessions to operate each main radial route out of London but given they will have a common Azuma fleet has to be some opportunity there.

Thameslink has changed the landscape around London and is best left as a single concession with the rest run as separate concessions from London terminals.

This isn't a blueprint just some quick thoughts but what's needed is the release of the Williams review and the govt White Paper which has again disappeared off the release radar from what I can see. We are in danger of perpetuating a very costly interim solution which treasury won't support indefinitely and the industry will be forced to cut its cloth to suit and end up with half baked solutions to save costs which won't enable a better outcome.
 

Bald Rick

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Am I right in thinking that if indeed franchises are dead and the DfT will in the long-run move towards a concession based model, we won't get livery/name changes every 5 years?

To be honest that effectively happened some time ago, for some franchises. The Thameslink livery was specified by the DfT, for example, as was the West Coast fleet being painted largely white. I expect livery changes will be limited to minor branding alterations from now on (perhaps doors, and cab ends), albeit with livery refreshes every so often.


Does anyone think they might split up or rearrange the area that the current franchises cover

I’d say it’s a certainty. Perhaps not too much breaking up, more reallocation and possibly combination.
 

JonathanH

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Does anyone think they might split up or rearrange the area that the current franchises cover

I’d say it’s a certainty. Perhaps not too much breaking up, more reallocation and possibly combination.
It does rather depend on the costs and harmonisation issues of making these changes and whether the savings exceed the costs but removal of overlapping services would seem to be a very sensible proposition.
 

LNW-GW Joint

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Time to rethink whether the TPE and Northern operations should be merged or re-split, which would suit northern politicians.
First Group gets in the way of that, though, if they stay on running TPE with a direct award.
The final decisions on franchise terminations were due this weekend - it's gone very quiet.
 

Wyrleybart

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Am I right in thinking that if indeed franchises are dead and the DfT will in the long-run move towards a concession based model, we won't get livery/name changes every 5 years? I could definitely get used to that to be honest. I've always preferred the livery & name "continuity" of long-running franchises (such as Southern, Scotrail) or concession-based operations (Tfl rail, London Overground, Metrolink etc.).

I think "every 5 years" is a little bit of exaggeration. During the last 20 years of rail franchising I cannot think of a franchise of less than 7 years or so, and i think train liveries / branding has generally followed the franchise term, with a slight lag.

In the case of XC the new franchise was announced that it would commence in October 2007, when Arriva took over the franchise from Virgin. By that time (2007) Virgin XC were operating the 78 voyagers jointly with Virgin WC and they were all in the Virgin livery in which they were delivered around 2000-2001 The new XC brand was developed and I am guessing a voyager was painted in the livery from franchise date.

Virgin WC continued and it is only really in the last twelve months that the original Virgin livery was replaced, by blank then the new Avanti colours now being rolled out - 20 years after voyager deliveries.

XC rolling stock was reliveried - 170, Voyager and the refurbished HSTs and they have all carried the XC scheme pretty much for the last 13 years, with no real sign of change.

Obviously a totally different kettle of fish with the troubles of the ECML franchise I grant you.
XC
 

Speed43125

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As someone not native to either TOC's operating area, the large number of different liveries of various units/vehicles operated concurrently at various points by Greater Anglia and LNWR/London Midland/WMR did always strike me as confusing. I would have trouble pointing out which liveries were the new and old really.
 

Bald Rick

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It does rather depend on the costs and harmonisation issues of making these changes and whether the savings exceed the costs but removal of overlapping services would seem to be a very sensible proposition.

I agree. North of York needs looking at (and is, I gather), but where else?
 

Purple Orange

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Time to rethink whether the TPE and Northern operations should be merged or re-split, which would suit northern politicians.
First Group gets in the way of that, though, if they stay on running TPE with a direct award.
The final decisions on franchise terminations were due this weekend - it's gone very quiet.

The TPE services will never be merged in to Northern or whatever becomes of Northern. The TPE services will be incorporated in to whatever Northern Powerhouse Rail will be branded as.
 

Mrwerdna1

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To be honest that effectively happened some time ago, for some franchises. The Thameslink livery was specified by the DfT, for example, as was the West Coast fleet being painted largely white. I expect livery changes will be limited to minor branding alterations from now on (perhaps doors, and cab ends), albeit with livery refreshes every so often.
There you go, that I did not know, you live and learn. I suppose I made the remarks in view of the ongoing rebranding of trains on the GWR/SWR network, since it would seem quite ridiculous to me were those trains to get completely rebranded again once the franchise (and direct management) contracts have run out in just a few years time. I also happen to quite like the current GWR livery and I reckon it's really fit for purpose (with as you say possible minor alterations) for another 10 or so years at least.
 

Bald Rick

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I may be wrong, but I’ve got a feeling the SWR livery was DfT specified too.
 

HarryL

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All white trains with neutral non-company specific branding makes the most sense, if we consider the earlier days of franchising when companies would use their own brand and logos on everything which made repainting and reupholstering a necessity during every change, millions of pounds that could have gone into improved service was instead spent on rebranding which seems like madness.

Personally I would be in favour of a network-wide set of liveries and branding like the old days, maybe not drag the BR name back into some different system but the National Rail brand could work as a universal one imo. #bringthedoublearrowback
 

Mrwerdna1

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All white trains with neutral non-company specific branding makes the most sense, if we consider the earlier days of franchising when companies would use their own brand and logos on everything which made repainting and reupholstering a necessity during every change, millions of pounds that could have gone into improved service was instead spent on rebranding which seems like madness.

Personally I would be in favour of a network-wide set of liveries and branding like the old days, maybe not drag the BR name back into some different system but the National Rail brand could work as a universal one imo. #bringthedoublearrowback
Well, I certainly don't see why most intercity services couldn't have at least similar liveries. If the government indeed decides to go down the path of regulatory devolution, then different regions of the country may develop a sort of regional branding / corporate identity for their local commuter services, but intercity services connecting major cities across the country could have one brand (or similar liveries), kind of going back to BR Intercity days.
 

swt_passenger

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It was developed by forpeople, so I'm not sure it's DfT specified
IIRC all that DfT really did was encourage that it could be transferable. The actual wording didn’t seem to explicitly require the incoming franchise to do it though...
Use branding to maximise the value of the Franchise whilst having regard to the overall costs and benefits of branding including, where practicable, enhancing the Franchise brand so that it could be used by the Successor Operator and its successors, as well as limiting the costs of de-branding at the expiry of the Franchise;

(from saved copy of SW ITT 2016)
 

LNW-GW Joint

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All white trains with neutral non-company specific branding makes the most sense, if we consider the earlier days of franchising when companies would use their own brand and logos on everything which made repainting and reupholstering a necessity during every change, millions of pounds that could have gone into improved service was instead spent on rebranding which seems like madness.

Personally I would be in favour of a network-wide set of liveries and branding like the old days, maybe not drag the BR name back into some different system but the National Rail brand could work as a universal one imo. #bringthedoublearrowback

If you look at liveries in countries where the railways are "nationalised", you see almost as much variety at in the "privatised" UK.
France and Germany plaster their trains with local/regional crests and icons, and Italy puts abstract designs on them (matching the local train brands like "Jazz").
They are also busy inventing sub-brands with totally different imagery and marketing to the old monolithic national corporate styles.
 

Mrwerdna1

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I quite like that approach - they are quite similar to the Regional Railways variants we used to have.
I don't mind regional variance, in fact I'd love to see more of it, provided it is genuinely related to the region itself and not merely to the corporate identity of the TOC. What I do find over the top is TOCs' liveries changing so frequently that there's rarely a single point in time where all or most trains of the franchise carry the same or even similar liveries until towards the very end of that TOC's franchising contract. In some franchises, trains even spend years operating with the old livery with nothing but a sticker covering the old operator's name. It leads to the confusing spectacle that people have mentioned previously. That needs to stop in my opinion.

Creating smart future proof liveries will be about providing a kind of base-line canvas that can be adapted and modified over time, but doesn't (usually) necessitate a complete overhaul.

Also, having regional identities doesn't rule out the possibility of having a core national identity for intercity trains. In fact as I stated above I'd absolutely love the idea of having both heavily localised regional liveries (even more so than is the case today), but a more universal approach when it comes to long-distance / intercity trains. There's no reason why an ECML intercity should be any different to a GWML intercity, in theory. Both operate such long distances that it can hardly be argued they reflect a certain part of the country better than any other. Of course if one wanted to one could still solve this issue similarly to how DB introduces regional variation on their regional trains (in most cases), which is by using the same livery, broadly speaking, but with a different sub-brand name and little regional slogans and iconography that are printed onto that baseline livery:

 
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Bletchleyite

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They should also completely remap the UK although in reality this is just England now and regional services around the big city conurbations should be a concession from TfGM for instance like MerseyRail.

Merseyrail is self contained, though - hardly any of the remaining GM network is - pretty much just Marple, Rose Hill, Hadfield, Atherton (except Kirkbys) and the Airport.
 

Greybeard33

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Merseyrail is self contained, though - hardly any of the remaining GM network is - pretty much just Marple, Rose Hill, Hadfield, Atherton (except Kirkbys) and the Airport.
The Marple line is part served by the Hope Valley stoppers. Hadfield and Glossop are in Derbyshire. Atherton line trains run through to the Calder Valley or Burnley to avoid clogging up Victoria or Rochdale. Hardly any Airport services stay within GM. The GM network is inextricably tangled with the wider regional and national network.
 

Purple Orange

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The Marple line is part served by the Hope Valley stoppers. Hadfield and Glossop are in Derbyshire. Atherton line trains run through to the Calder Valley or Burnley to avoid clogging up Victoria or Rochdale. Hardly any Airport services stay within GM. The GM network is inextricably tangled with the wider regional and national network.

Except that the Atherton, Hadfield & Glossop and Rose Hill lines are to be converted to metrolink. The fact that Glossop sits in Derbyshire doesn’t make any difference to this.
 

Bletchleyite

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Except that the Atherton, Hadfield & Glossop and Rose Hill lines are to be converted to metrolink. The fact that Glossop sits in Derbyshire doesn’t make any difference to this.

If anything it's a bit like Merseyrail to Ormskirk and Chester, which are just considered part of the whole as it's easier. Hadfield/Glossop long were anyway, TfGM tickets are valid to them.
 

Mrwerdna1

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I always remember when visiting Manchester that I was very impressed by Metrolink, but less so by the ticketing system (at the time, mind you, don't know how it is now). Though you could easily buy tickets for Metrolink + Bus + Train, I found that my tickets were often rejected at the ticket barriers of train stations and staff had to let me in (and out) manually. I suppose I understand that the Metrolink zones don't cover too much of the Northern network, but there I have to say that travelling with Oyster (or back in the day: London's Day Travelcards), I was used to a much more seemless experience. Other than that, I was very impressed by Metrolink itself, I have to say. Maybe this also shows that regionally managed & regulated concessions for local/regional services are indeed the way forward!
 

Purple Orange

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To contribute my opinions on branding/franchising it is that branding is a very useful tool for passengers.

I’d only seek to redraw the scenery once HS2 is running, and bring back ‘Intercity’.
  • Intercity Express:
    • London to:
      • Birmingham
      • Manchester
      • Leeds
      • Liverpool
      • Glasgow
      • Edinburgh
      • Newcastle
      • Bristol
      • Cardiff
      • Plymouth
    • Birmingham-Edinburgh via Manchester & Leeds
      • Merging HS2 & NPR
    • Birmingham-Glasgow/Edinburgh
    • Manchester-Glasgow/Edinburgh
  • Intercity Regional
    • Liverpool-Hull via Manchester Victoria
    • York-Bristol & South West via Birmingham New Street
    • London to:
      • Norwich
      • Brighton
      • Oxford
      • Cheltenham & Worcester
      • Classic WCML services
      • Sheffield
      • Nottingham
      • Classic ECML services
      • Southampton & Portsmouth
      • Exeter (Waterloo services)
 

Greybeard33

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Except that the Atherton, Hadfield & Glossop and Rose Hill lines are to be converted to metrolink. The fact that Glossop sits in Derbyshire doesn’t make any difference to this.
TfGM's latest 5 year plan merely says that, by 2026, they will develop options for metro or tram-train (not Metrolink) to Wigan via Atherton, Glossop and Marple. Tram-train options are dependent on a successful outcome from three small scale tram-train pathfinder projects, for which they will aim to complete business cases by 2026. Metro would require a city centre tunnel, for which they will also develop options by 2026.

After jumping through these hoops, they will then, after 2026, have to complete the business cases for each line and persuade central government to cough up the funding.

If all this eventually happens, there is no suggestion that regional or freight trains would be excluded from the lines, nor that the metro/tram-train services would be branded Metrolink.

I think it is likely that GM and other city regions will be given a role in managing the concessions for local and regional heavy rail services, but in collaboration with the surrounding authorities.

I am not convinced that local branding of rolling stock is a good idea, if this restricts flexibility to move units around the region. PTE branding under old Northern ended up a bit of a mess, e.g. Merseyrail Pacers in Yorkshire.
 

Bletchleyite

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I am not convinced that local branding of rolling stock is a good idea, if this restricts flexibility to move units around the region. PTE branding under old Northern ended up a bit of a mess, e.g. Merseyrail Pacers in Yorkshire.

That was like bus route branding. Competent operators keep buses on route and have enough unbranded ones to cover a failure. Incompetent, or budget-stretched, ones don't. I will leave the elements of that as applied to Northern to the reader.
 

Purple Orange

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TfGM's latest 5 year plan merely says that, by 2026, they will develop options for metro or tram-train (not Metrolink) to Wigan via Atherton, Glossop and Marple. Tram-train options are dependent on a successful outcome from three small scale tram-train pathfinder projects, for which they will aim to complete business cases by 2026. Metro would require a city centre tunnel, for which they will also develop options by 2026.

After jumping through these hoops, they will then, after 2026, have to complete the business cases for each line and persuade central government to cough up the funding.

If all this eventually happens, there is no suggestion that regional or freight trains would be excluded from the lines, nor that the metro/tram-train services would be branded Metrolink.

I think it is likely that GM and other city regions will be given a role in managing the concessions for local and regional heavy rail services, but in collaboration with the surrounding authorities.

I am not convinced that local branding of rolling stock is a good idea, if this restricts flexibility to move units around the region. PTE branding under old Northern ended up a bit of a mess, e.g. Merseyrail Pacers in Yorkshire.

Only the Warrington line is dependent upon a tunnel. At present there are 10 tph that terminate at Piccadilly from Altrincham & Bury, that could go on to Glossop & Rose Hill. There are 5 tph that terminate at Victoria from the Airport that could head on to Middleton and 5 tph that terminate at Cornbrook from the Trafford Centre that could go to the Atherton Line. Then we have the Eccles services that can be redirected via Salford Central and back out towards Media City. All in all it sees services through St Peters Square maintained at 35 tph, without the need for a tunnel.
 

MackTen

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We've already seen the future. Had their best minds on it for a good few years now.

Post Covid, it's probably going to be....

(blue and green) East Midlands Trains (2025-2045)
(red and blue) Trains for East Midlands (2045-2065)
(blue and red) Midlands Trains East They Are (2065-2085)
(green and blue) Hyperloop East Midlands Trains Trains of The Trains Trains East. Midlands. Trains. (2085-isotomic apocalypse)

Sick of it already, me.
 

Energy

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We've already seen the future. Had their best minds on it for a good few years now.

Post Covid, it's probably going to be....

(blue and green) East Midlands Trains (2025-2045)
(red and blue) Trains for East Midlands (2045-2065)
(blue and red) Midlands Trains East They Are (2065-2085)
(green and blue) Hyperloop East Midlands Trains Trains of The Trains Trains East. Midlands. Trains. (2085-isotomic apocalypse)

Sick of it already, me.
Not a mention of having London in the name :D I honestly wouldn't be surprised if we got East London Railway.

As someone not native to either TOC's operating area, the large number of different liveries of various units/vehicles operated concurrently at various points by Greater Anglia and LNWR/London Midland/WMR did always strike me as confusing. I would have trouble pointing out which liveries were the new and old really.
Greater Anglia
Following FGE and Anglia Railways (both First Group, Anglia was part of GB Railways which First bought) they got replaced by One (owned by National Express). One wasn't a particularly great brand, in theory it made sense as it brought multiple franchises into one franchise however it caused confusion in announcements on whether it was "20:20 One service to" or "20:21 service to".

Midway through its franchise National Express had a rebranding across the whole company, which changed One to National Express East Anglia. Due to their financial problems at National Express East Coast, NX weren't given the franchise extension so another franchise went out and was awarded to Abellio Greater Anglia (later dropping the Abellio part) who operated until around 2016 when they got another franchise which is seeing them replace all the trains.

West Midlands Something
Previously London Midland (part of Govia) operated the whole franchise of London services and local services around the West Midlands. At the end of their franchise in 2017 it was awarded to West Midlands Trains (part of Abellio). Transport for West Midlands (local transport body) wanted to have a consistent brand for the west midlands public transport services, so that is how it got the West Midlands Railway brand name (I know, Trains and Railway are really confusing, blame Abellio for not naming the legal name as something sensible like Abellio West Midlands). The London services got the London Northwestern Railway brand (still part of West Midlands Trains) as they weren't covered by West Midlands Railway.

This isn't too much of a problem. They can brand themselves as two mostly different companies who happen to have the same parent company, however Abellio like to stick 'operated by West Midlands Trains' on the side of their trains which is really confusing compared to say 'operated by Abellio'. This operated by sticker seems to be what confuses people due to West Midlands Railway and West Midlands Trains having such a similar name.
 

HarryL

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We're in a trend of branding companies after their pre-BR or pre-grouping names and it doesn't really work beyond the big InterCity services like GWR or LNER, it feels forced elsewhere. I do hope that if the trend continues in the order it's doing now, we're in store for a BR branding renaissance soon.
 
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