Rail 622: National Express on fast track to oblivion

August 10th, 2009 Rail Magazine no comments
When Douglas Alexander was transport secretary and Sea Containers abandoned its GNER contract, he told me that the occasional failure of a franchise showed that the system was working well. It was a sign that the government had got it right as bidders took risks in order to win franchises and sometimes got it wrong. I could not disagree more. The rail industry is based on long term investment, huge fixed ...

Rail 619: Lemming-like operators set to jump off cliff

June 3rd, 2009 Rail Magazine 13 comments
It is difficult at the moment not to liken the train operators to lemmings hurtling off the edge of the cliff in an act of collective suicide. They seem to be trying to outdo each other in their efforts to make themselves unpopular just at a time when they need all the help and support they can get from the press and public. The list is endless and I can barely ...

Rail 617: Can rail projects survive the recession?

May 7th, 2009 Rail Magazine 1 comment
Watching Alastair Darling sound the death knell for New Labour in his Budget speech, it struck me that never before has the Westminster Village, which I once inhabited, been so distant from the people it is supposed to serve. Darling, formerly of this parish, inhabits a world that is so distant from the one where the rest of us live that one can no longer trust anything that is being ...

Railways face battering in recession despite protection

April 15th, 2009 Transport Times no comments
We have entered a new era on the railways. The unexcitingly named Control Period 4 for Network Rail began on April 1st and certainly its import was stressed by Network Rail whose press briefings were picked up eagerly by, amongst others, the Evening Standard whose front page story seemed to suggest commuting nightmares were about to become a thing of the past. The good publicity for the railway makes a welcome ...

Fares rises will not save train operators

February 26th, 2009 TSSA Journal no comments
It was not only the bankers who have been grilled recently by commons select committees. A few days before the now infamous four appeared at the Treasury Select Committee, a group of train operators faced questioning over fares rises and cuts in services from the Transport Committee. Both occasions had a rather unsatisfactory result - though, as an aside, how I wanted to see that serial offender Sir Steve Robson, ...

The National Express conundrum

February 20th, 2009 Christian Says 29 comments
National Express is in far deeper trouble with its East Coast franchise than even I thought. Sources within the industry suggest that as much as 30 per cent of its first class business has disappeared and since the company will have to fork out £50m in premium payments in the year starting in April, compared with receiving a small subsidy this year, it is difficult to see how it ...

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