Transport User Voice – August 2018 – You and your train company
31 July 2018
The present Cross Country franchise, operated by Arriva UK Trains, is expected to end in December 2019. The public consultation is live and will close on 30 August. The Department for Transport (DfT) will also be inviting bidders to apply for the short-list for the competition, to be announced in September. The next franchise is expected to be awarded from August 2019 to allow for preparations for the new operation.
Transport Focus has been working closely with the DfT as they started to shape the competition for the new franchise. We drafted a foreword for the prospectus and members of our team have been travelling around the UK to present alongside the DfT at stakeholder events to promote the Cross Country franchise consultation to encourage responses from as many people as possible. Our input has focused on our passenger research, including priorities for improvement, National Rail Passenger Survey results and focus group findings.
Sharon Hedges, Franchise Programme Manager, spoke at the Bidders’ day, which launched the start of the franchise competition. We will also be engaging in discussions with shortlisted bidders to ensure that their plans are centred around the things that are important to passengers.
By way of background, Transport Focus carried out two rounds of bespoke research to establish the passenger perspective on the Cross Country service. The first, in 2015, explored passenger attitudes to current services and their aspirations for the future. More recently we examined the reasons why travellers do not make more use of Cross Country and passenger experiences of interchange.
The Transport Focus franchising team has continued to meet with bidders as they develop their plans to respond to the East Midlands franchise specification, before bids are submitted in September.
Wales and Borders
A representative from the KeolisAmey mobilisation team has attended the Transport Focus members event to outline their ambitious plans for the new rail service and discuss future working between the operator and Transport Focus. The new contract starts on 14 October 2018.