Tuesday, 19 September 2023

NEWS REPORT - New National Rail Contract Announced Today for The West Coast Partnership and a New Contract for CrossCountry

New National Rail Contract for the West Coast Partnership agreed with the Department of Transport to start on 15 October 2023.
Contract consists of Avanti West Coast services and West Coast Partnership Development which will last until 2032 subject to approval.

A new National Rail Contract (NRC) for the West Coast Partnership (WCP) has been agreed with the Department for Transport (DfT), it was announced today.

WCP comprises Avanti West Coast and West Coast Partnership Development – the Shadow Operator for the HS2 programme.

The NRC will commence on 15 October 2023 and will last until 17 October 2032 subject to ongoing DfT approval. It begins with a core three-year term to 18 October 2026.

Commenting on the announcement, Avanti West Coast Managing Director Andy Mellors said: “The National Rail Contract for the West Coast Partnership announced today provides stability for customers and colleagues as we continue to rebuild trust as well as confidence.

“Over the last six months, we have delivered significant and sustained improvements in operational performance and customer satisfaction. Cancellations that Avanti West Coast is responsible for have stabilised at below two percent of scheduled services. 
The last year has been challenging but I would like to thank our customers as well as stakeholders for their patience.

“There are still challenges ahead but plenty to look forward to on our network including customer benefits such as the continued award-winning refurbishment of our Pendolinos and the introduction of our new Hitachi fleet, which will increase capacity and further improve our sustainability credentials.”

Shamit Gaiger, Managing Director, of the West Coast Partnership Development, said: “The new National Rail Contract will enable us to continue to focus on the design, development and implementation of future high-speed services on the network as we aim to set new standards in UK rail.

"We are committed to working with our partners to realise the benefits these services will provide to our economy, communities and passengers. As the infrastructure is built, we will ensure customers are at the heart of future high-speed services on the West Coast.”

Cross Country Award

CrossCountry have also been awarded a new 8 year contract. Their network stretches from Aberdeen in the north-east of Scotland to Penzance in western Cornwall via Birmingham.

It is owned by Arriva, which is a UK-based subsidiary of the German state railway operator Deutsche Bahn.

Ironically CrossCountry are being forced to cease using HST's in favour of the less popular Voyager units, which have a reputation for overcrowding.

CrossCountry's services have been badly disrupted by staff striking in a dispute over working conditions.

The rail operator said significant disruption had been caused by the Nuneham Viaduct closure, infrastructure works at Birmingham New Street as well as significant re-signalling works taking place.

Tom Joyner, CrossCountry managing director, said the firm would "continue to build on the improvements we have made to the onboard service and plan to make substantial improvements to all services across the network".

Its new contract, which starts on 15 October, has a maximum term of eight years but can be terminated at any point after four years.