Rail franchises operators & contracts

16.08.07

National Express Group awarded contract

Passenger Focus, the independent rail consumer watchdog, has responded to the announcement by the Department for Transport that the National Express Group has been awarded the contract to run the Intercity East Coast rail franchise from 9 December 2007.

Guy Dangerfield, Passenger Focus manager said: “Passengers now have certainty about the future of their train services. We hope to see National Express building on the standards being delivered by GNER. Our spring 2007 National Passenger Survey shows that 87% of GNER passengers are satisfied with the service they receive and we hope to see the new operator scoring into the 90%s as soon as possible. We welcome the proposals for extra capacity from December 2010 as getting a seat is very important. However these proposals must be pursued with vigour if they are to see the light of day. We also welcome the 90.1% commitment on punctuality, although note that this will be a significant challenge for both National Express and Network Rail because in 2006/07, 17.3% of GNER’s trains were more than ten minutes late.

Guy Dangerfield added: “Recent Passenger Focus research shows that ‘value for money’ is at the top of passengers’ priorities for improvements. While we welcome transparency from the Government that unregulated fares are likely to rise by 2.1% above the rate of inflation each year, we are concerned that at current inflation rates this could amount to a 45% price increase over the length of the franchise. This could mean a York to London Standard Open Return rising from £179 to £259 by 2015.”

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