Virgin Trains wins ECMLBack to Forum
Anonymous27 Nov 2014
Amazing victory really, especially as Eurostar/Keolis were the rumoured favourites.
So Virgin now has both routes from London to Scotland.27 Nov 2014
Virgin Trains has quite a challenge on its hands.
According to the DfT it is paying £3.3 billion (billion, not million) for the East Coast franchise..
That sum is more than twice which previous operators GNER and National Express paid.
But both could not raise the cash and so defaulted on the contract which, as we all know, was taken back by the government’s DOR.
New trains will not arrive for another four/five years. Virgin will have to make do with the existing electric trains plus the elderly HST diesel trains.27 Nov 2014
Now that a decision has been taken to award the East Coast franchise to “Virgin East Coast”, then the West Coast franchise should be transfered to the displaced Directly Operating Railways. It has provided a benchmark on one line so let it do the same on the other. That way we can see how well, or not, Virgin (West Coast) have actually been doing. It also provides the necessary competition between the two lines.27 Nov 2014
So, living in Edinburgh if I want to take the train to London I now have a choice of Virgin or Virgin. I’m not sure that stacks up as competition and if they are going to implement the same service standards on the east coast to those on the west then we will see a significant deterioration quickly.
DOR were doing an excellent job and I think re-letting this franchise because of political dogma was misguided and foolish.
Oh, I almost forgot, at least at the moment I can fly to London with Little Red if I choose to and who owns that I wonder?
Shouldn’t the competition commission be looking into this?27 Nov 2014
Alex, your post raises the most obvious question .that anyone living in a capitalist society would have about this arrangement. Especially if you happen to be a shareholder in this joint venture
Unless this is disguised as some sort of money making pyramid scheme, how on earth can you make a profit, when you’re already 3 billion in the red, and you’ve also promised to invest millions in improving the current service.
As I commented on the Scotrail post, the Howls of dogmatic hyenas must be laughing at us poor folk that have to use the railways.27 Nov 2014
East Coast = Stagecoach (90%) & Virgin (10%) joint venture.
West Coast = Stagecoach (49%) & Virgin (51%) joint venture.
Stagecoach is in the driving seat for East Coast, albeit with Virgin branding.27 Nov 2014
Why on earth would anyone want to use Virgin branding if they didn’t have to? It’s all over promise and under delivery.
Stagecoach I think operate South West Trains which has a better reputation than Virgin, why not use their own branding in that case?27 Nov 2014
South West trains have a better reputation????? They have some of the worst overcrowding in the UK, speak to any SWT season ticket holder. I know people who live in zone 5 and have no chance of a seat on SWT, while I leave in zone 5 and use great northern and get a seat 95? of the time27 Nov 2014
There are 65 new IEP trains on order but they will not arrive until 2018 and then, not all at once.
Until then Virgin will have to make do with the existing rolling stock and some of this is getting quite old now.
The 65 new trains replace around 40 current trainsets (I don’t have the exact number because additional HSTs are hired from EM Trains as and when needed) so there will be a significant step up in capacity.27 Nov 2014
This bonkers franchise includes a £3.3bn premium over 8 years.
GNER went belly up over £1.3bn over 10 years.
National Express walked away on a £1.4bn over 7 year contract.27 Nov 2014
@WillieWelsh, you are absolutely spot on with your analysis that this a matter of political dogma.
Owen Jones’s excellent article, East coast rail has been too successful – quick, privatise it, sets out the case in detail.28 Nov 2014
The reason why it’s Virgin branded is because Virgin *does* have a better reputation than nearly every other TOC.
Every time I travel in SouthWest Trains it’s a really professionally run company, but regular passengers hate them. When I travel with Virgin, it’s always so-so. And that smell of toilet.
Yet, Virgin had a petition signed by over 100,000 people!
I can’t aee SWTrains getting that.28 Nov 2014
@SealinkBF – The Virgin brand appeals to the mass market, especially to those who don’t get to experience the reality of it, the smell of those toilets is grim.
@PhilipHart – The Stagecoach / Virgin JV forecasts approx. x3 times the existing contribution to the public coffers of the “embarrassingly successful” existing East Coast franchise. Lets see if they can deliver on it. Anything Owen Jones says on it is less logic and more political points scoring.28 Nov 2014