Latest Rail News

16.08.12

Industry reaction to FirstGroup West Coast win

Passenger groups, MPs and unions have responded to the award of the West Coast franchise to FirstGroup over rival bidder Virgin Trains. 

Whilst some have raised concerns over the operator’s ability to deliver such a high-value bid, or the possibility that fares may rise and jobs could be lost, others have used the opportunity to propose improved services to their area of the country via the West Coast Main Line.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said the union was seeking “urgent and cast iron guarantees” that members’ jobs were safe and threatened that moves to cut services on the franchise would be met with a ballot for industrial action. 

David Sidebottom, passenger director at Passenger Focus, said: “The important thing is not the name on the side of the train, but the experience of the journey, the availability of staff when you need them and of course the value for money.” 

Corin Taylor, senior economic adviser at the Institute of Directors, cautioned: “Businesses will be watching FirstGroup’s performance closely. The contract will only be a success if passengers get the extra seats, faster journey times and smart ticketing that has been promised.

“As with all rail franchises, we hope that the train operating company will be able to fulfil the pledges of their bid and provide an improved service for passengers.” 

But Cllr Liam Robinson, chair of Merseytravel, said the company was looking forward to continuing a close working relationship with FirstGroup and specified their aspiration for two trains per hour between London and Liverpool.

And Plaid Cymru MP for Arfon in north-west Wales, Hywel Williams called for more direct services from Wales to London and to Manchester Airport and longer trains to provide more seats. 

Williams added: “With fares rising and the very strong threat of cuts to services, we will be doing what we can to make sure that pledges are honoured.” 

Ahead of the announcement yesterday, Maria Eagle, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, warned: “Passengers are set lose out no matter which company runs the West Coast rail franchise because the new contracts allow the successful bidder to hike fares by up to 11 per cent a year, reduce services, close ticket offices and even axe CCTV from trains.” 

She addressed concerns that FirstGroup may have to charge significantly higher prices once the rail line reaches capacity and increasing revenue through growth becomes untenable. 

“It would be unacceptable if passengers ended up having to pay even higher fares to enable operators to honour the commitments they have made.” 

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com 

Image c. Alvey and Towers

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Record number of passenger journeys as UK rail revenue rises to four-year high

18/06/2019Record number of passenger journeys as UK rail revenue rises to four-year high

Record figures of rail passenger journeys have been recorded in England, Scotland and Wales, according to the most recent quarterly report by the... more >
Rail union Aslef launches 'On Track with Diversity' report at Houses of Parliament

18/06/2019Rail union Aslef launches 'On Track with Diversity' report at Houses of Parliament

Train drivers’ union Aslef launched its On Track with Diversity report at the Houses of Parliament on Monday, as it looks to increase ... more >
Dawlish railway may be ‘moved out to sea’ to protect it from storms under new proposals

13/06/2019Dawlish railway may be ‘moved out to sea’ to protect it from storms under new proposals

The storm-battered Dawlish rail line could be “moved out to sea” and away from the “hazard” of the cliffs under new plans... 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 >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projec... more >
Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

12/03/2019Women in rail - is the industry on the right track?

RTM sits down with Samantha Smith, sole female member of the TransPennine Route Upgrade Alliance Leadership Team, to find out more about encourag... more >
TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

22/01/2019TfN Strategic Transport Plan: not just for transport's sake

Peter Molyneux, Transport for the North’s (TfN’s) strategic roads director, has been leading on the development of the seven economic... 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. ... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

Apprentice to Co-leading the Rail Sector Deal

05/06/2019Apprentice to Co-leading the Rail Sector Deal

In a series of Q&A’s with key speakers on the run up to TransCityRail Midlands, we caught up with TransCityRail panellist and Amey&rsqu... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

Hitachi trains for Happy trains

10/06/2019Hitachi trains for Happy trains

ScotRail project manager Kirsty Devlin discusses the withdrawal of Class 365s, to be replaced with the brand-new Class 385 fleet. While Scot... more >
Malcolm Holmes on new stations for the Black Country

10/06/2019Malcolm Holmes on new stations for the Black Country

Malcolm Holmes, executive director of the West Midlands Rail Executive, described the new stations set to be built for the Black Country region o... more >
The skills bottleneck: Dealing with growing apprenticeship demand

10/06/2019The skills bottleneck: Dealing with growing apprenticeship demand

Richard Turner, head of apprenticeships at Network Rail, details the reasons for growing apprenticeship demand in the rail sector over the coming... more >
A train journey on the Midland Main Line 15 years from now…

10/06/2019A train journey on the Midland Main Line 15 years from now…

Chris Hobson, director of policy and external affairs at the East Midlands Chamber, talks in detail about what travelling through the region will... more >