Tuesday, 29 June 2010

National Express Backs Government's Possible Rail Fare Rise

National Express has entered the debate over rail fares by backing the government's consideration of ticket prices as part of a drive to cut the state's £5bn subsidy of the railways.

National Express' Chief Executive, Dean Finch, said that the government was right to warn passengers that it might scrap the fares cap that limits price increases to RPI + 1%. This follows a comment made by the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, saying that the formula could be sacrificed in the autumn spending review.

Mr Finch said "It is absolutely legitimate for anybody to look at, in terms of raising revenues. Everybody complains about rail fares being awful, but we have more than 1bn journeys on the railways every year. That tells you that in the overall scheme of things the railway is an effective form of travel and is an integral part of people's lives."

It is unlikely that Mr Finch's comments will find much support amongst the travelling public.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Passenger Satisfaction With NXEA Still Low

Passenger Focus today published the official statistics on passenger satisfaction with rail travel from the National Passenger Survey from spring 2010. The results show that National Express East Anglia has again performed badly coming third from bottom with an overall satisfaction level of 77%. Only London Overground (72%) and First Capital Connect (76%) scored lower. The highest ratings were scored by Wrexham & Shropshire (99%), Grand Central (94%) and Merseyrail (93%).

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Greater Anglia Franchise Replacement Cancelled

Theresa Villiers, Minister of State for Transport this morning issued a written statement on the future of rail franchising which will have a dramatic effect on the future of the Greater Anglia franchise currently run by National Express East Anglia (NXEA).

"The Department for Transport will shortly begin a consultation exercise on the future of rail franchising policy. This consultation will provide industry partners with the opportunity to comment on the Government’s approach to rail franchising and whether bidders for longer franchises would be able to offer investment in improvements to trains and services. It will also allow the industry to set out its proposals for improving the efficiency and value for money of rail franchises, for both taxpayers and fare payers. I will set out further details to the House in due course.

To enable the next Greater Anglia and Essex Thameside franchises - which are currently in the process of being re-let - to fully reflect the changes resulting from this review of policy the competitions for these franchises, which were started in January 2010, are to be cancelled.

It is currently expected that a new competition for the Greater Anglia franchise will be advertised by the end of the year, after the consultation responses have been considered, with the Essex Thameside franchise following in Autumn 2011....

The effect of this announcement appears to be that NXEA will retain the franchise beyond the current planned end date of 31st March 2011.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Colchester Rail Users Group

The Essex Rail Users Federation would like to pay tribute to Graham Male who has stepped down as Chairman of the Colchester Rail User Group (CRUA) after many years of sterling service supporting Colchester passengers. His contributions will be sorely missed and we wish him well in his new life 'south of the river'.

Unfortunately Graham's retirement, and other changes, mean that the Colchester Rail User Group has effectively ceased to exist. Colchester is the second busiest station on the Great Eastern mainline and the passengers who use the station benefit from having a group to represent their interests. If you would be interested in carrying on the work of the CRUA please contact ERUF on info@eruf.org who will be pleased to assist in any way we can.

Friday, 11 June 2010

NXEA To Discontinue TXT Alerting Service

National Express East Anglia have announced that with effect from 13th June they will no longer be providing their Text alerting service to mobile phones. Instead such alerts will be provided by email only. It is the belief of NXEA that many customers now have access to email both in the office, home and on the move. It is true that the email format allows for more information to be provided but whether the same target audience can be reached remains to be seen.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Stagecoach Tenders For New Anglia Trains

Stagecoach has issued tender notices for a new train fleet for the Greater Anglia franchise according to the OJEU (Official Journal of the European Union) notices.

Stagecoach Anglia Trains is inviting interest in 'up to 800 vehicles' for Greater Anglia including suburban commuter EMUs, 100mph electric inter-city trains and regional diesel trains. The cost of the new fleet is put at £1.28 billion - about £1.16 million per vehicle.

Stagecoach is also seeking financial packages for the new fleet, but states that contract award depends on the outcome of the franchising competition. It will not be known until the summer, who has won the franchise that will replace the current National Express East Anglia arrangement.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Shortlist For New Franchise Bidders Awaited

Details of the shortlist of bidders for the franchise to replace National Express East Anglia are awaited. The original schedule proposed by the DfT would have seen the list made public in April but the General Election has delayed the announcement. Such a delay has made what was already a very tight schedule even more of a challenge. The new franchise is due to start on April 1st next year.