Monday, 31 January 2011

Rail Travel At Highest Peacetime Level Since 1928

A report form the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) says that rail travel is now at its highest peacetime level since 1928.  The number of train journeys reached 1.3bn in 2010.  ATOC claims this is down to the rising cost of motoring and perhaps surprisingly good service and attractive pricing!

Overall the proportion of the population using the train has actually decreased with the amount of usable track having more than halved since the heyday of the 1920s.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Channel 4 Dispatches - Looking For Feedback On Rail Services

Channel Four's Dispatches are making a documentary about Britain’s train services. They are investigating the reasons behind highly publicised complaints including delayed and cancelled services, confusing pricing, poor public information, over-crowding, dirty trains and above-inflation increases in fares.

Over the next four weeks they are asking people from all over the country to send them their phone footage and videos. They would like to see clips showing what train services are like, telling them your stories and sharing your views.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in participating in then please keep an eye on their website for more detail on how to take part.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Customer Satisfaction With NXEA Still Low

In a report out today overall customer satisfaction with the service provided by National Express East Anglia is shown to be the second worst in the country.  The survey by Passenger Focus shows that 79% of passengers were satisfied with the service.  Only First Capital Connect scored lower with 76%.  Despite this poor showing there is actually a 2% improvement on the previous set of figures.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Franchise Update

The National Express East Anglia franchise has been further extended to February 2012.  The government has made it clear it wishes to review the whole franchising system and it is likely that any future franchises will be for a longer period than currently awarded - a length of 15 years is being mentioned.  This is to encourage the train operating companies to invest properly in the railway they are responsible for.  Current franchises typically run for 7 years or so which is not long enough for companies to necessarily see the benefits of their investment, so they don't do it to the extent that perhaps they should.

So, in a rather bizarre move it seems that the government will be going out to tender for the new Greater Anglia franchise which will run from February 2012 to the summer of 2013.  Such a short franchise is being considered to give the Department for Transport sufficient time to define the future of franchising so that a longer such arrangement can be tendered to run beyond 2013.

It is unlikely of course that there will be many bidders - other than National Express - for the franchise to summer 2013.  There is significant expense in putting together a bid and most companies are likely to wait until the 'main' franchise to run from summer 2013 goes out to tender rather than bid for such a short franchise which will only run for just over a year.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Amendments To Timetable

The NXEA website is saying there will be minor changes to the Norwich and Colchester line timetables by the end of January to correct 'teething problems' following the introduction of the new timetable in December.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

NX Profits From Rail Highlighted In Private Eye

An article in Private Eye highlights the bizarre thinking behind the rail franchising system - a system that supposedly ensures that the profits of train companies are not ring fenced.  You may remember that National Express Group (NX) won the East Coast mainline franchise in 2007 by making unrealistic assumptions about growth.  Instead of suffering the financial consequences of its recklessness NX dumped the business on tax payers in November 2009.  Labour ministers at the time had said that any firm handing back a franchise would lose its other franchises by "cross default".  This sounded good but proved to be, in the words of Private Eye, piffle.  NX was not stripped of its two remaining franchises - C2C and National Express East Anglia (NXEA) - both of which are profitable.  In the case of NXEA, the profits are enhanced by 'revenue support' i.e millions in tax payers' money.

Following on from the handing back of the East Coast franchise, NX UK rail profits rose by 544 percent in the first six months of 2010 and now the government has extended both C2C and NXEA franchises.

As Private Eye says, the lesson for future franchise bidders is clear: bid recklessly to win because franchising guarantees big, risk free rewards.

So, a 544% increase in profits? Something to bear in mind next time you purchase a ticket to travel on your filthy, overcrowded and more than likely, late train.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Season Ticket Prices

Does anybody have details of season ticket prices over the past ten years or so?  Interested to see how fares have increased over that period.  Please email us at

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Overrunning Engineering Works Again

Once again the return to work following the Christmas and New Year break is disrupted by overrunning engineering works and once again the communications in this regard by NXEA leave a lot to be desired.