Transport User Voice – March 2018 – You and your train company

22 February 2018

The financial challenges facing the operator of The East Coast franchise are now urgent, the Secretary of State for Transport has announced. Short-term options for the future are now under review and include:

  • a potential direct award on a not-for-profit basis
  • operating the service under direct control.

We have stressed the need for services to keep running, for quality to be maintained or improved and for investments to be made. The process will be transparent and the outcome of both options will be published.

We’ve just started a research study into the CrossCountry franchise, exploring passengers’ experiences of changing onto and between services. We are also talking to people who do not use CrossCountry to find out their views. The results will be published later this year.

We are continuing to talk to the Department for Transport (DfT) and the bidders for the West Coast Partnership franchise. The Invitation to Tender is expected to be published during the spring and will provide details of what the DfT will expect from bidders. A direct award to Virgin Trains will allow it to operate the franchise for another year, to April 2019, with a potential one-year extension at the Secretary of State’s discretion.

The new shortlist of bidders for the East Midlands competition has been announced. Abellio is an addition to the previously named bidders – Arriva, First/Trenitalia, and Stagecoach. We will be talking to all the bidders and providing further input into the development of the specification and National Rail Passenger Survey targets for the next franchise.

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