In an article in the Financial Times it is reported that National Express (NX) will not be bidding for the big inter city franchises, including the lucrative West Coast Mainline franchise, as they come up for renewal in the next couple years. NX will be concentrating however on retaining their last two remaining franchises - NXEA and C2C.
A source is quoted as saying "We’re not interested in intercity franchises; we need to prove ourselves with C2C and East Anglia and use them to win back political confidence”
National Express is trying to restore its reputation following its decision to relinquish the contract to run the London to Edinburgh rail service last year.
It is likely that NX will have to compete to keep its franchises as the government is thought to be putting the current NXEA franchise on a short term contract as a test case for the proposed new way of franchising. Other possible changes to perhaps be tested by the government include longer, 15-20 year franchises to encourage investment in stations and new trains, and a restructuring of the revenue sharing between train operators and the government. The review, which has been welcomed by the industry, is an attempt to shore up the rail franchise system, under fire since the East Coast main line was temporarily renationalised last November following NX handing it back.