Passenger Voice May 2015: You and your train company
30 April 2015
New contracts for First Great Western and First TransPennine Express
Last month the Government announced that First Great Western will continue to operate trains between London Paddington, the Cotswolds, south Wales and the south west until April 2019.
Whilst we welcome the stability that this new contract will bring we will be working hard to ensure real, timely benefits are delivered for passengers. It is also critical that, given the scale of the works planned for the Great Western network, any disruption is carefully managed to reduce the impact on passengers. We will be monitoring this with research on passengers’ experience of the works at Reading and Bath this year.
The Government had previously run a consultation into the future of Great Western rail services. Read our response here.
There was also the news that First TransPennine Express will continue to operate rail services across the north for another year until April 2016.
It is critical that this investment in the north is actually focused on the things passengers tell us they want – a reliable day-to-day service, better value tickets and enough room to sit or stand. Whilst quicker journey times will be popular, the key thing is the delivery of the advertised timetable.
We’ve been talking to both the Department for Transport (DfT) and the train operators about the issues we believe need to be addressed in these short-term contracts. We’ll carry on pressing for real passenger benefits to be delivered.
All change for rail operation in Scotland
April saw the start of two new rail operations in Scotland with Abellio taking over the ScotRail contract across Scotland and Serco beginning to run the Caledonian Sleeper.
For the first time our National Rail Passenger Survey will be used to understand how ScotRail are working to improve overall passenger satisfaction and how well they deal with delays.
The franchise also requires a plan to be developed to improve a number of stations, including Inverness station. We are working with the Regional Transport Partnership to examine the priorities for passengers at Inverness.
The current East Midlands franchise is due to end in October 2015. It is likely that the Government will award a further short-term contract to the existing operator, Stagecoach. We’ve been involved in discussions with the Department for Transport and East Midlands Trains about passengers’ priorities for this period and you can read our recommendations for the franchise here.
Our work has been informed by our research exploring passengers’ current experiences of using East Midlands Trains and an online exercise we carried out on behalf of DfT.