Rail franchises operators & contracts

14.08.19

First Trenitalia announced as new West Coast Partnership operator

In a move described by transport secretary Grant Shapps and chair of the Rail Review Keith Williams as a departure from flawed systems of the past, First Trenitalia have been announced as the successful bidder to run the West Coast Partnership from December 2019 through to 2031.

The operator promised to provide passengers with new trains, greater numbers of seats, simplified fares and more frequent services on the West Coast Main Line.

Mr Shapps and Mr Williams said the new Partnership was designed to fit in with the direction of the Rail Review and to implement the recommendations made by the latter in due course.

The appointment of First Trenitalia showed a move away from the previous franchising system to tackle issues already highlighted by the Williams Review, using a forecast revenue mechanism (FRM) to avoid a repeat of issues that blighted the previous East Coast Main Line. This mechanism will be supported by a new annual review to ensure the partnership is working effectively, collaboratively and continually improving.

Mr Shapps said of the award: “This is positive news for passengers, with more services, more direct connections and ambitious plans for a cleaner, greener railway, and also represents a decisive shift towards a new model for rail.

READ MORE: DfT reveals shortlist of three JVs for West Coast Partnership franchise

READ MORE: FirstGroup and Trenitalia join forces for East Midlands and WCP franchises

“It is a Partnership supported by Keith Williams, built with the flexibility to respond to his recommendations and deliver fundamental reform to a flawed system. Meeting Keith last week confirmed our shared determination to deliver a future that puts passengers at the heart of the railways, and get our trains to run on time.

“That is why I have asked Keith to produce his recommendations for a white paper, with fearless proposals that will deliver a railway system fit for the 21st century.”

Mr Williams added: “The railway needs reform that prioritises the customers and communities it serves, with an absolute focus on delivering benefits for passengers. I have also been clear that my review must not stop or delay investment and innovation.

“This West Coast Partnership delivers for passengers. It is a step forward that is firmly in line with the review, introducing benefits for passengers today and capable of incorporating the reforms needed for the future.”

The transport secretary also confirmed that the Government was intending in due course to produce a white paper setting out the recommendations of Williams, aiming to bring forward his vision for a truly passenger-focused industry with clear, accountable leadership at its core.

Image credit: David Cheskin/PA Archive/PA Images

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