20 February 2012

Time to put the Great back in to Great Western?

The current contract to operate the Great Western rail franchise is about to enter its last year. First Group are not taking up the option to extend the franchise will will now come to an end in March 2013. First are almost certainly among those operators who will have registered their interest in taking the new 15 year franchise. The deadline to register an interest has now expired so I am sure it wont be too long before we hear exactly who wants to run our trains for the next 15 years.

There was what first appeared to be an interesting development when the BBC claimed that “Passenger levels on railway branch lines are being grossly underestimated in documents given to firms bidding for a franchise” Reading into the story it appears to be one station (Lelant Saltings) on one branch line (St Ives) so isn't quite the scandal that the headline promises.


FGW leaving Plymouth

Another railway news headline that caught my eye recently was equally disingenuous:

Plymouth MP almost missed launch of £100million train campaign - because there was no train

She didn't almost miss the meeting because there was no train. She checked the timetables and realised there was no suitable train available so she made alternative arrangements to get there. This is no different to checking your local bus timetable and discovering there is no direct bus to where you are going. You look to see what other options are available and then make plans accordingly. That's life.

Many will agree that “It is ridiculous that I am unable to travel to Plymouth in time for a meeting starting at 10:30am.” Sadly her government when it was in power did little to make such a journey possible. The current government are spending a lot less on transport so are unlikely to achieve that much. This is not me trying to make a political point as neither party seems to have a clue when it comes to public transport. Transport is one of the very few areas that Labour have actually agreed with most of the current government spending cuts.

Apart from the sensational headline the rest of the story is straightforward enough explaining that "Leading rail industry consultants Steer Davis Gleave were jointly commissioned by the Chamber and the Council to look into the economic case for better rail connectivity and found that for an additional operating cost of £10 million a year, the economy stands to gain £94 million” This may well be the case but someone has to find that additional £10 million and Plymouth wont be the only area that will try and make such claims.

I am sure we will be hearing a lot more about the Great Western franchise over the coming months. The start of the new franchise in April 2013 is indeed a great opportunity to do something different and actually gain an improved railway service. I just wish I had the confidence in those in charge to actually take the opportunity…

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    • 1 comment:

      1. May I suggest that had the MP had a greater input on the goings on of Plymouth City Airport then she may well had been able to fly into Plymouth earlier. Unfortunately Viv Pengelly had put pay to that for not only the MP but for the rest of the citizens in this city.
        Plymouth wont get an increase in 3 hour trains because there are too many other cities with in the GWR franchise who also want faster trains and when Plymouth is compared with Cardiff, Bristol, Bath, Oxford, Reading etc Plymouth wont have a leg to stand on as these other cities are viewed with far more importance.
        We should not have put our eggs all in one basket, we should have a motorway, airport, ferry port as they provide mobility choice.


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