Latest Rail News

07.07.15

Stagecoach fails to secure direct award of South West Rail franchise

Stagecoach Group has confirmed that the Department for Transport has ended talks with its subsidiary, Stagecoach South Western Trains Ltd, on the direct award of the new South West rail franchise. 

The current franchise is due to end in February 2017 and South West Trains had submitted proposals to the DfT as part of previously announced government plans for the direct award of a new franchise to at least April 2019. 

However, Stagecoach says the DfT has now indicated that it plans to invite applicants to tender for a new long-term franchise to commence sometime in 2017. 

Stagecoach has run South West Trains since British Rail was privatised in 1996 and was last awarded the contract in 2007 for 10 years. It is one of the UK’s biggest rail franchises, operating more than 1,600 trains a day and carrying 220 million passengers a year. 

A DfT spokesperson told RTM: “We are committed to providing better journeys for passengers, and securing improved services through franchising is at the heart of that. 

“In order to ensure the best deal for passengers and taxpayers, we are proceeding to a full competition for the South Western franchise, and negotiations for the direct award have been brought to an end. There is no impact on passenger services.” 

But the DfT has indicated that it expects to exercise its pre-contracted option to extend the current South West Trains franchise beyond February 2017 until “no later than August 2017”.

A Stagecoach statement said: “Despite extensive negotiations, a significant difference has remained between both parties regarding the financial evaluation of the proposals. As a result, South West Trains has been unable to reach an agreement on a direct award.” 

“We will continue to deliver on our commitments to government and customers, including the £50m package of investment agreed with the DfT earlier this year as part of a Deed of Amendment to the existing franchise.” 

Stagecoach added that it still believes the company is in a strong position to submit a powerful and attractive bid for a new South West Trains franchise.

(Image: c. Alvey and Towers)

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

Comments

Andrew Gwilt   07/07/2015 at 17:42

Well I must say that South West Trains & Stagecoach have done so well lasting over 20 years serving the West of England, Solent, South Coast, Surrey, Hampshire and Southwest London as well Isle of Wright with brilliant services, reliable trains to cope with everyday rush hour and the Class 458's that are being converted from 4-car into 5-car 458/5's and the new Siemens Class 707 Desiro City trains that are to be built and to be operated on London Waterloo-Reading/Windsor & Eton Riverside & London Waterloo-Guildford services as well Siemens Class 450's & Class 444's Desiro's that are the most reliable trains that operates between London Waterloo-Southampton Central, Bournemouth, Portsmouth Harbour, Portsmouth & Southsea, Aldershot & Guildford routes, Class 158's that is operated between London Waterloo-Exeter Central, Yeovil Central, Yeovil Pen Mill & the counties of Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset and the former London Underground trains that are used in the eastern side of Isle of Wright.

Simon   12/07/2015 at 20:44

Whilst Stagecoach SWT have and continue to deliver major developments to their franchise operation - certainly far superior to anything other similar operators such as first and NS(abellio)have produced what does let SWT down is the uninspired timetable where trains drift around on their long distance services - Portsmouth is no faster now than when first electrified nearly 80 years ago and Southampton isn't a lot better.

H. Trevor Jones   09/08/2015 at 09:58

I prefer a punctual train to a train that's super-fast 80% of the time; I've a feeling from travel experience that that's how Swiss railways achieve their famous punctuality records, with a minute or two to spare built in if things go well. I find SWT pretty reliable as a mostly off-peak user around the system.

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