Virgin Trains wants to return to WCML and compete ‘open access’ with Avanti

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Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 23 total)

  • AMcWhirter
    Participant

    Some of you may have seen this piece in today’s Sunday Times – see link below [paywall].

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/virgin-trains-to-take-on-avanti-as-branson-returns-to-west-coast-line-k85xxz3pw

    Of course Virgin will have to apply to the regulator for permission to compete and ORR (the regulator) takes its time not least because incumbent Avanti pays the gov’t a hefty franchise fee.

    Another consideration is finding the slots on the WCML and at London Euston.

    A further issue is that Grand Union recently received permission to operate Stirling-Euston via the WCML.

    And yet another issue could be that First Group (which has a shareholding in Avanti) says it wants to operate a Greater Manchester-London multi-stop service.

    This would be a Lumo-type operation so fares would be low and it would be a similar to that which Lumo provides London-Newcastle-Edinburgh over the ECML.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/articles/cd1d6n7d3n6o

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Ah,Mr.Bond
    Participant

    I find myself flying Glasgow to London this Monday bank holiday as there are no trains- yet again. What times do we seriously live in? Virgin or Avanti… wont make any difference. Who can charge the punter the most for a service not fit for purpose is their only goal.

    5 users thanked author for this post.

    AMcWhirter
    Participant

    Unlike mainland Europe which operates a 7-day rail service the UK tends to reserve engineering works at weekends/public holidays.

    This might have been alright decades ago but changing travel patterns mean that some change is needed.

    Last year I reported on Network Rail’s trial to undertake engineering work midweek on the ECML.

    The trial did take place but nothing further has been heard since.

    Network Rail reacts to changing travel patterns

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    TimFitzgeraldTC
    Participant

    Very good article in RAIL magazine this week about the Labour Party’s plans in the likely event they win the next GE.

    Basically on the point of Open Access operators – no definitive proof they actually add real value to the railway – and actually in many circumstances inhibit and effective / clockface timetable being run as paths are squeezed in for them to operate making the timetable sub-optimal.

    So if they win – you can’t really have improved connections between services and other transport modes if you don’t control all operators. So Open Access realistically might not be around much longer given the complications that comes with them?????


    SimonS1
    Participant

    Indeed Tim, the great Tory dogma of competition and free markets.

    Instead we are left with the most expensive railway in Europe, with the usual story of dividends going out too foreign owners many of which are just working on management contracts, taking no real risk, and turning in the keys when the numbers no longer stack up and delivering confusing and incomprehensive fares to customers.

    So roll on the Labour Party, getting national infrastructure fully back in national hands.

    https://inews.co.uk/news/uk-most-expensive-train-journeys-more-europe-3023403


    AMcWhirter
    Participant

    In January 2023 Euronews conducted detailed research which shows that the price of rail tickets in Europe depends on many factors.

    https://www.euronews.com/travel/2023/01/09/rail-fares-across-europe-the-countries-with-the-most-expensive-train-tickets

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Chutzpahflyer
    Participant

    Tim, re: your comment “no definitive proof they actually add real value to the railway”… I regularly travel London to Hull and value the fact that Hull trains covers that route, where LNER forces me to change at Doncaster.
    But bring on the renationalisation of our railways! A couple of months ago I went London to Madrid by train. A fantastic journey at speed and in comfort – 2 out of three services on state-owned railways, Eurostar being the exception.


    AMcWhirter
    Participant

    Chutzpahflyer – FYI Eurostar is majority owned by SNCF.

    1 user thanked author for this post.
    BPP

    Chutzpahflyer
    Participant

    Alex, of course – I forgot! Makes the case for state ownership even stronger.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    alistairNicoll
    Participant

    It is ironic that Virgin when they negotiated their franchise back in the 90s had a clause that protected them from open access competition on the WCML


    Ah,Mr.Bond
    Participant

    Further to my earlier post – I took the train up to Scotland before the bank holiday last week . £96 one way in Standard premium Euston to Lockerbie. I have this morning just got the entire lot refunded after rolling in at 2330 instead of 2210. I rarely paid for train travel last year due to the same.


    AMcWhirter
    Participant

    Our train operators will be making more Delay Repay payments.

    Effective yesterday late afternoon the WCML was closed to Anglo-Scottish travellers owing to a freight train derailment. Trains were not proceeding north of Preston.

    Avanti tweeted that the line was closed and the advice was “Do not travel today [Wednesday].”

    That stretch of line remains closed today [Thursday] and again Avanti has tweeted “Do not travel north of Preston today.”

    “Services between Oxenholm Lake District and Penrith have been cancelled due to freight train derailment blocking the line.”

    Little wonder that ECML sees so much traffic growth. Right now it’s the only rail route to Scotland.


    No Name
    Participant

    I think there’s a lot of people who would take the train IF it was reliable. Nowadays it’s a bit of pot luck if you get to where you want to be on time, which is just unacceptable for work purposes, although you do get the refunds eventually.

    It’s also not good for local cities for business meetings. We had a meeting in Glasgow last year. A lot of people took the train, were kicked off at Carlisle and had to take taxis up the rest of the way. The train companies paid for it, but it was quite stressful experience apparently. Result: no further meetings in Glasgow.

    It just needs someone in government to take the issue by the horns, and just realise that perhaps you just need a reliable service that is not designed to make money, but generates wider benefits to the economy. And this is what makes me sad about the current state of HS2. I think it will eventually come good, go to Euston, and link to Manchester. I’d love it to be double decker trains for capacity. However it’s going to take a lot of political will and good management to get it there.

    I also wonder if the government need to plan for ECML upgrading (?track doubling) – it’s used so heavily now that it will break at some point.


    esselle
    Participant

    Unfortunately double decker trains don’t go through tunnels.


    alistairNicoll
    Participant

    esselle I think you meant the British rail infrastructure is not suited to double deck trains rather thaan they do not go through tunnels

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