UK Government shortlists bidders for two rail franchises
The UK Government's Department for Transport (DfT) has announced the names of the companies competing for the new West Coast Partnership (WCP) rail franchise and the following South Eastern franchise.
The winning bidder for the WCP franchise is expected to work with HS2 to introduce first services on the line, while the winner of the South Eastern franchise will collaborate with Network Rail to ensure better passenger experience and provide longer trains with increased space for customers.
WCP will replace the current franchise of the West Coast Main Line from April 2019 and will be responsible for designing and operating the initial HS2 services between London and Birmingham from 2026.
The shortlisted companies are First Trenitalia West Coast, MTR West Coast Partnership and West Coast Partnership, which have been selected on the track record in customer services.
UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “The West Coast Partnership will support growth and better services on the West Coast Main Line, while helping to ensure that HS2 becomes the backbone of Britain’s railways.
“This will create more seats for passengers, improve connections between our great cities, free up space on existing rail lines and generate jobs and economic growth throughout the country.
"I look forward to seeing the bidders’ innovative ideas to put passengers at the heart of the railway.”
The winning operator will have the responsibility to design, launch and operate the initial HS2 services and also deliver the transition of the timetable on the West Coast Main Line, which will be revised in order to take advantage of the extra capacity provided by HS2.
It is also expected to collaborate with local transport authorities Transport Scotland and the Welsh government to ensure convenience for passengers using the service.
The DfT has also reportedly selected South Eastern Holdings, London and South East Passenger Rail Services, Stagecoach South Eastern Trains, and Trenitalia UK for the upcoming South Eastern franchise.
Grayling further said: “South Eastern is one of the busiest franchises in the UK, running almost 2,000 services every weekday.”
The South Eastern franchise is expected to increase reliability of operations using latest technology, create more space for passengers and enhancing overall customer service.
The new franchise is planned to start in December 2018.