HS2

15.12.15

More international operators seek to win UK rail franchises

The Department for Transport (DfT) has chosen the first 11 operators that have been successful in their pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) passport application – the government’s new approach to rail franchising.

Trenitalia, Italy’s state-owned rail operator, is among them, as is MTR Corporation, which runs the Hong Kong metro system and the Crossrail concession (under the name TfL Rail for now), and has been operating London Overground as part of a joint venture since 2007.

The full list of operators includes all the main franchised operators on the national rail network, including others owned by foreign state-owned rail companies:

  • Abellio Transport Group Limited
  • Arriva UK Trains Limited
  • First Rail Holdings Limited
  • Go-Ahead Holding Limited
  • Govia Limited
  • Keolis (UK) Limited
  • MTR Corporation (UK) Limited
  • National Express Trains Limited
  • Stagecoach Group Plc
  • Trenitalia SpA
  • Virgin Holdings Limited

These companies will be able to submit their expression of interest for all future franchise competitions within the valid timeframe of the passport from today (15 December).

The passport was created to innovate, streamline and modernise the DfT’s procurement practice, as well as encourage applications from new and international entrants that have an interest in the rail passenger market.

On 2 December, during a Public Accounts Committee evidence session, the DfT admitted that its rail franchising contracts in the past have been “overly rigid”, but said this was now changing.

Its permanent secretary, Philip Rutnam, said the government was taking an active approach to talking to international operators not yet in the UK market.

Peter Wilkinson, managing director for passenger services at the DfT’s Rail Executive, expected there to be two or three new entrants to the market in the next few years and confirmed that the DfT had already spoken to four international operators at that point.

He added: “We operate a very open dialogue with our market. We see those companies seeking to enter the market in the same way we see those companies that are already in the market, and we are very open with them about the franchising process.

“One of the things we have done that was not present before the West Coast competition collapsed was absolutely to publish our franchising process to remove the mystique around it – to demystify it.”

The passport system was based on similar pre-qualification and certification schemes in other parts of the market, aimed at cutting down on the time and money organisations spend providing technical information for multiple franchise competitions.

Rail minister Claire Perry said: “The quality of the submissions evidenced that we had explicitly sought high standards, integrity and professionalism from the national and international market. During the assessment stages, we scrutinised and scored technical ability, strict safety standards and exemplary management practices.

“Our approach has resulted in diverse and competitive market bidders from the UK and overseas who now hold a passport.”

Their passports will be valid for up to four years, during which operators can apply for all future franchise competitions without needing to submit the same information each time.

“This supports the department’s effort to drive innovative customer-focused thinking and delivery from operators. Putting the passenger first is at the heart of all our franchise tenders and I believe this passport will keep the market fresh and dynamic,” Perry continued.

“We can now focus our efforts on managing and negotiating the life-cycle of future franchises, build the necessary long-term industry relationships and continue to encourage parties from the UK and overseas to participate in our marketplace. This announcement is a hugely positive step and I am looking forward to seeing great results from a healthy, competitive open market.”

(Top image c. Alvey and Towers)

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

NIC chair: Government must commit to clear plan for Crossrail 2 and NPR

16/02/2018NIC chair: Government must commit to clear plan for Crossrail 2 and NPR

Progress on Crossrail 2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail has been branded “hugely disappointing”, by the National Infrastructure Commission... more >
RMT announces further 24-hour strike on Northern and Merseyrail

16/02/2018RMT announces further 24-hour strike on Northern and Merseyrail

Further strike action on Merseyrail and Northern has been confirmed by RMT, whose members will strike for 24 hours on 3 March as part of a long-run... more >
Northern line extension: TfL warns of 5-month disruption to Bank branch services

15/02/2018Northern line extension: TfL warns of 5-month disruption to Bank branch services

TfL has cautioned passengers on the Northern Line about upgrade works which mean Bank branch services will go for a 5-month period without stoppi... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Big Rail Diversity Challenge 2018: Exciting details announced

09/02/2018Big Rail Diversity Challenge 2018: Exciting details announced

The first details of this year’s Big Rail Diversity Challenge have been revealed and it’s safe to say the 2018 edition is set to be more thrilling than ever. Last year saw the RTM team attend the second edition in what is quickly becoming Women in Rail’s flagship event, where teams with a 50/50 gender split compete in a ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

NCHSR: The possibilities are limitless

06/02/2018NCHSR: The possibilities are limitless

The National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR) has been gifted with a brand-new lab dedicated to surveying and scanning technologies designed t... more >
Keeping Britain's railway on track

06/02/2018Keeping Britain's railway on track

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, argues investment in track maintenance and rail infrastructure is fundam... more >
The Intelligent Infrastructure approach

06/02/2018The Intelligent Infrastructure approach

Network Rail is seeking to improve asset management whilst cutting down on expenditure by implementing a new Intelligent Infrastructure programme... more >
Project Aura: Changing the game

02/02/2018Project Aura: Changing the game

Paul Boyle, head of ERTMS at Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC), describes how Project Aura has been revolutionising training across the organisatio... more >

rail industry focus

  • 08/12/2017A game changer for Midland Metro

    The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) updates RTM’s Luana Salles on the latest projects taking place across the growing Midland Metro...
  • 09/11/2017Testing tomorrow's technology today

    David Brazier, site manager and area sales manager for the UK & Ireland at OMICRON electronics, tells RTM’s Luana Salles about the major...
  • 09/11/2017What next for safety?

    As rail businesses edge towards their target of zero injuries, improving safety performance can plateau. Amey’s sector director for rail, Lee...
View all News

interviews

Transforming travel in the north west

06/02/2018Transforming travel in the north west

RTM’s Josh Mines talks to Robin Davis, head of new trains at TransPennine Express (TPE), about the huge rolling stock change journey the co... more >