10 July 2007

Arriva Arrival

Arriva welcomes new Cross Country rail franchise award
10 July 2007

Arriva plc, one of Europe’s leading bus and rail operators, today welcomed the decision of the Department for Transport (DfT) to award it the new Cross Country rail franchise.

The Cross Country network is the most extensive rail franchise in the UK. Stretching from Aberdeen to Penzance, and from Stansted to Cardiff, it covers around 1,500 route miles and calls at over 100 stations.

Arriva will run the franchise under a new CrossCountry brand and livery. The centre of operations will be in Birmingham, at the heart of the network and the largest city served by it.

Arriva’s successful bid for the franchise featured the following benefits for travellers:

35 per cent increase in seating capacity in critical evening peak on principal routes by June 2009
At-seat catering on all routes, for all passengers, not just First Class
Radical improvements in ticketing and reservation booking, including home printing of tickets and tickets by mobile phone, with discounted tickets available much closer to the start of travel
Investment in improved rolling stock, with all other trains refurbished to the standard of the popular Voyagers
The reintroduction of HSTs to provide 550-seat trains on busy routes
Wi-Fi available to all Voyager and HST passengers, free in First Class.
The franchise will run from 11 November 2007 to 31 March 2016, with the last two years and five months conditional upon achieving agreed performance targets. Annual revenue is expected to exceed £600 million in its first full year, including franchise support payments which reflect the current inability of the franchise to cover its operating costs through fares alone. However, by supporting growth in passenger numbers and improving the quality of services, Arriva is committed to reducing government support on the franchise to almost zero before the end of the franchise.

Arriva will make cheaper fares easier to obtain closer to the point and time of travel. Saver tickets will continue to be available on relevant services at regulated prices. Whilst prices of the most flexible, full-price fares will rise by an average of 3.4 per cent above RPI, becoming more focused on those who need the added value of maximum flexibility in their travel plans, almost all travellers will have lower-cost alternatives.

David Martin, Arriva’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to operate this major franchise, which advances Arriva’s UK rail presence significantly.

“The Cross Country network has many existing strengths but our stakeholder research has helped us to pinpoint important areas where we can improve the passenger experience and make the business more efficient. Our proposals and substantial targeted investment will make rail travel more attractive and support growth in passenger numbers by increasing seating capacity.

“Arriva’s new Cross Country operation will support growth in regional travel by rail, help to ease congestion and contribute to improving the UK’s environment. With innovations in technology, and expertise which benefits from our existing success in rail operations in the UK and across mainland Europe, we are confident of meeting both rising demand and passengers’ rising expectations for quality of service. With franchise support payments almost eliminated by the end of the term, we are confident of providing an excellent result for the taxpayer as well as improved services for passengers and a reasonable expectation of fair returns for the risks borne by our shareholders.”

Franchise Highlights
More and better trains:
35% increase in seating capacity in critical evening peak on principal routes by June 2009

Nearly 20,000 extra seats through Birmingham every weekday

Introduction of five High Speed Train (HST) sets each with eight state-of-the-art refurbished coaches (total of 550 seats), providing longer trains with more seats and luggage space on the major North East-South West route

Longer Voyager trains on other key services
Internal reworking of Voyager and Class 170 fleets to meet customer priorities for more seats and more luggage space

Additional services to base service pattern providing through journey opportunities between Edinburgh and Reading, Bournemouth and Newcastle, and Penzance and Manchester
Additional late evening services to and from Stansted Airport

High quality service on board:

Introduction of at-seat catering, reflecting customer preferences

Wi-Fi access for all seats on all HSTs and Voyagers, and improved mobile phone reception on Voyagers

First Class accommodation on all trains, including ex-Central Trains service

Hot plated food available to First Class passengers

Three members of staff providing on board service on long distance trains

Staff more accessible and visible to passengers

A ticketing and information revolution:

Centred around a new internet retailing service, providing:

Easy to use service, guiding towards the cheapest fares and best interchange options

Print at home and mobile phone ticketing

Personalised journey information, with text updates on itinerary

Wider and better information on stations and connecting transport services

Flexible reservations systems to cope with late changes to journey plans

£1 million investment in more ticket machines and information screens at key stations

Information campaign on alternative locations (to Birmingham New Street) for interchanging between trains

Additional staffing to provide help and assistance during December 2008 timetable change

A railway contributing to environmental improvements:

Training staff in environmentally-friendly ways of working

Reducing on-board waste and increasing recycling

Cooperating with industry and Arriva initiatives to develop alternative fuels

Encouraging modal shift to rail by providing more trains with more seats

A secure railway:

Introducing a new ‘Secure Trains Scheme’ to give passengers confidence about their on-board security

Working with industry partners to extend Secure Station Accreditation across key CrossCountry calling points

Employing additional security staff

Staff and stakeholders:

£1.4 million to be invested annually in staff training and development

Regular employee surveys

Consultation on new staff uniforms

Regular stakeholder events across the whole franchise area

Stakeholder and customer consultation on restructured December 2008 timetable

Arriva Trains Press release

Rail Group disappointed at New Cross Country franchise decision
Virgin Rail Group (VRG) said today it was extremely disappointed at the announcement by the Department for Transport (DfT) that its bid for the New Cross Country franchise was unsuccessful.
The DfT announced that Arriva plc has been awarded the franchise to operate the New Cross Country franchise from 11 November 2007.
Commenting, Tony Collins, VRG's Chief Executive, said today: "We are understandably extremely disappointed at today's announcement and will be seeking an early meeting with the DfT to understand why we were unsuccessful. Our bid was extremely competitive, built on our experience of operating the CrossCountry franchise for the last ten years, during which time we almost doubled the number of passengers and increased performance to regularly exceed 90%. We attempted to strike a balance between an affordable and deliverable deal for the taxpayer, and continuing the high quality customer service that Virgin CrossCountry has created."
Despite today's announcement, VRG confirmed it would continue to operate the Virgin CrossCountry franchise to the highest standards until the 11 November handover. Chris Gibb, Managing Director of Virgin CrossCountry, said: "Our aim through our people has always been to provide the best possible service to our customers and we will continue to do this to the end of our franchise. Although November will mark the end of Virgin's stewardship of CrossCountry, the new franchise will build on the legacy of our investment in new trains and improved services, and the skills, experience and loyalty of our people: skills that will be invaluable to the new operator when they begin the New Cross Country franchise."
Today's announcement has no effect on Virgin Trains' other franchise, West Coast, which runs services from London Euston to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Preston, North Wales and Glasgow. The current Virgin CrossCountry tilting services between Birmingham, the North West and Scotland will transfer to Virgin West Coast in December.
Virgin press release

So a new rail operator for Plymouth. I must admit the Virgin trains are very smart in their red livery and the Arriva livery for its buses and trains is incredibly dull unless they have something more exciting in the pipeline. I guess we will have to wait and see what the future brings.

1 comment:

  1. The mock-ups of the new livery are already up on Arriva's new Crosscountry site - look pretty smart in my opinion, although the HSTs look a bit blocky.

    I'm just delighted about the return of HSTs to the long-distance routes, anything over three or four hours in a Voyager is hellish


Have something interesting to say? Please share it here!

(Moderation is currently switched on so please allow a short while before your comment appears on the site. This is only to cut down on spam - not to cut out people who disagree with me!)