Latest Rail News

04.02.16

First Group vs Stagecoach for South Western franchise

First Group and Stagecoach have been shortlisted to run the next South Western franchise, meaning a new company could be brought in to operate the network for the first time in two decades.

The franchise, set to start in June 2017, covers routes and stations between London Waterloo, Reading, Bristol, Exeter, Weymouth and Portsmouth.

It is currently operated by South West Trains, owned by Stagecoach. The firm was initially expected to be granted a direct award of the new franchise when it ended in February 2017, running to at least April 2019.

But it confirmed in July last year that the Department for Transport (DfT) was interested in inviting other applicants to tender for a new long-term franchise, despite Stagecoach having run the network since British Rail was privatised in 1996.

A DfT spokesperson told RTM that the move was designed to ensure the best deal possible for passengers and taxpayers.

Rail minister Claire Perry reiterated this today: “The South Western franchise has some of the busiest routes in the country, serving a diverse range of passengers and places. It is vital that we have the best partner to help us meet the challenge of delivering better journeys for all customers using these services.

“We are investing in additional capacity, and have ambitious plans for smart ticketing, customer service and improved connectivity across the South Western network, to give passengers real benefits across the region and beyond.”

The franchise is one of the largest in the UK, operating more than 1,600 trains a day across urban, suburban, regional and long-distance routes, as well as the Island Line on the Isle of Wight. In September last year, the DfT also said it wanted the next franchisee to come up with ideas for spinning off the Island Line into a “separate and self-sustaining business during the life of the franchise”.

Steve Montgomery, First Rail managing director, said: “We have extensive experience of running commuter, inter-urban, regional and long distance services - such as those that make up the South Western franchise – and a strong track record in delivering passenger growth, as well as capacity and infrastructure upgrades, on our Great Western Railway and First TransPennine Express networks.

“The South Western franchise plays a crucial role in keeping people moving and communities prospering across the region. We are developing an innovative and value for money proposal that will deliver better connectivity and significant improvements for customers. We look forward to the publication of further details by the DfT.”

Some of South Western’s commuter routes are also the first ones coming up in Transport for London’s plans, currently under consultation, to take over the capital’s suburban network.

It is expected that bidders will be required to draft plans for a separable business unit for inner London services, as already detailed in the franchise prospectus from last year. This would potentially be transferred to TfL in 2020 once capacity works at Waterloo comes to an end.

(Top image c. Alvey and Towers)

Comments

Andrew Gwilt   05/02/2016 at 00:43

I do think that Stagecoach would continue to keep South West Trains running for up to 7-9 years or up to 10 years with the Class 707 Desiro City trains to be built next year as all of the Class 458/5's have been converted from 4-car 458/0's to 5-car 458/5's working on the London Waterloo-Reading and Windsor & Eton Riverside routes with 30 5-car Class 707's to be built for London Waterloo-Windsor & Eton Riverside service and between Waterloo and Guildford/Woking during rush hour.

Nonsuchmike   05/02/2016 at 15:52

I would only agree to your suggestion Andrew if there provision for an open access model and inter connectivity was improved with flexibility of ticket usage throughout the whole of the SW. And what price considerable improvements in length of train and much more frequent timetabled services on the Bristol to Weymouth route?

Jack   06/02/2016 at 16:42

Had enough of stage coach time for a proper operator.

Andrew G   07/02/2016 at 15:39

I think that First Group are going to win the franchise. Stagecoach have been operating the South Western Franchise (South West Trains) since they first started franchising on the 4th February 1996 and Stagecoach would lose the bid in July 2017 (next year) with First Group as favourites to take over the South Western Franchise.

Guest   13/02/2016 at 16:06

Andrew Gwilt, first you say it's First, then you say Stagecoach could keep the franchise at the same time. Make your mind up, you're giving DfT idiocy a run for its money!

Denis S   21/08/2016 at 19:17

I think that stagecoach don't deserve the franchise. They build new 458's for the Windsor line and now 707s for the Windsor line? They're forgetting about 159's and 455's. Plus First could merge this franchise with gwr and there would be more services.

Stephen Williams   13/09/2016 at 14:34

Stagecoach will retain the SW franchise simply because they're the government's preferred bidder.

Stephen Williams   13/09/2016 at 14:39

Stagecoach will retain the SW franchise simply because they're the government's preferred bidder.

Stephen Williams   13/09/2016 at 14:56

Stagecoach will retain the SW franchise simply because they're the government's preferred bidder.

Add your comment

 

related

Rail industry Focus

View all News

Comment

The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

Network Rail’s Anna-Jane Hunter on, NPR, TRU, HS2 and supply chain opportunities

12/08/2019Network Rail’s Anna-Jane Hunter on, NPR, TRU, HS2 and supply chain opportunities

Anna- Jane Hunter, is a ‘proud northerner’ and is passionate about continuing the investment and success story of rail across the North.  She plays a key role in working with government and northern leaders to enable the network... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

Interviews

Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive, announced as TCR Midlands speaker in Birmingham

24/06/2019Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive, announced as TCR Midlands speaker in Birmingham

Ahead of his appearance, Malcolm Holmes spoke with Rail Technology Magazine about what key leaders in the industry were doing to improve rail in the Midlands. He said: “It’s very... more >