Economy

Stagecoach 'shocked' at disqualification from three rail franchise bids

Stagecoach 'shocked' at disqualification from three rail franchise bids”

Passengers will benefit from new trains with more peak-time seats, reduced journey times and more than £17 million of station improvements, the DfT said.

Abellio will take over the East Midlands route - which runs from London St Pancras International to Northamptonshire, the East Midlands, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire and South Yorkshire - on 18 August and will run trains until August 2027.

Stagecoach, which also has a huge bus division, now operates the East Midlands rail franchise between London St Pancras International and destinations including Leicester, Derby, Sheffield, Nottingham, Manchester and Liverpool. Abellio will deliver state-of-the-art new trains, upgraded ticketing systems and improvements to stations.

Stagecoach Chief Executive Martin Griffiths said the company was "extremely concerned at both the DfT's decision and its timing", and it was "seeking an urgent meeting to discuss our significant concerns".

"Along with many other train companies, we believe strongly that the private sector should not be expected to accept material risks it can not control and manage", he said, 'This was a key finding of the Brown review into rail franchising more than six years ago.

It also means that East Midlands has been automatically awarded to Dutch firm Abellio, while the South Eastern contest is to be re-run and the current deal is extended.

"We will continue, however, to press the Department for Transport for full electrification of the Midland Main Line so that we can enjoy lighter, cleaner, greener trains and closer integration with HS2 along the route".

Bidders had been asked to bear the full long-term funding risk on relevant sections of the Railways Pensions Scheme, according to Stagecoach.

Stagecoach, based in Perth, had submitted a joint bid with Virgin and French firm SNCF to run West Coast services from March next year.

"I am devastated for the teams who have worked tirelessly to make Virgin Trains one of the best train companies in the United Kingdom, if not the world", said Branson.

He said Virgin was at the top of the long distance franchised operators for customer satisfaction - receiving a 90 per cent customer satisfaction rating in the National Rail Passenger Survey and had almost tripled passenger journeys - from around 14m in 1997 to nearly 40m today.

"The danger is that this franchise becomes a guinea pig for new trains which haven't been tested, when we should be getting tried and tested electric trains running on a fully electrified line".

"This is an industry-wide issue and forcing rail companies to take these risks could lead to the failure of more rail franchises".

The Pensions Regulator has said up to £6billion may be needed to plug the gap but train companies have insisted the Government should support the scheme.

In a blog post, Branson said Virgin Trains could be gone from the United Kingdom in November after he learnt that the Department for Transport had disqualified a joint bid with Stagecoach Group and SNCF to run the West Coast line.

We're studying the DfT's decision carefully to understand why they've taken this action and would like to reassure all our customers that they can still book and travel as normal.

Stagecoach had been bidding for this franchise independently.

"The new East Midlands Railway franchise will also introduce enhanced delay repay compensation, with passengers able to claim compensation if their train is more than 15 minutes late".



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