Tendering process: ASLEF seeks staff guarantees as franchise bidding begins

01 November 2010

The bidding process is now out for tender with proposals having to be submitted by March 2007. Final decisions will be made in summer next year. ASLEF is seeking meetings with the nominated ‘preferred bidders’ in order to secure guarantees on job security – it is adamant there will be no compulsory redundancies - and conditions of service.


National Organiser Andy Reed says, 'It is essential that the union is fully consulted in the process at an early stage. ASLEF members have more self-respect than to allow themselves to be meekly bought and sold in the market-place. For the companies, our views are vitally important as our members will have a significant impact on the future success or failure of these franchises.'


Details of the bidding processes are outlined below:



The preferred bidders are for the franchises are:


New Cross Country franchise:


* Arriva Trains Cross Country Limited (Arriva Group)


* First Cross Country Limited (First Group)


* NXC Trains Limited (National Express Group)


* Virgin Voyager Trains Ltd (Virgin Rail Group)


East Midlandsfranchise:


* Arriva Trains East Midlands Limited (Arriva Group)


* First East Midlands Limited (First Group)


* NXE Trains Limited (National Express Group)


* Stagecoach Midland Rail Limited (Stagecoach Group)


West Midlandsfranchise:


* London & Birmingham Railway Limited (Govia)


* MTR Corporation (UK) Limited (MTR Corporation of Hong Kong)


* Serco NedRailways West Midlands Limited (a Joint Venture between Serco and NedRailways)



The operation of the franchises are:


1. The New Cross Country franchise takes in services on the current Cross Country franchise as well as Stansted - Birmingham and Cardiff - Nottingham services transferred from the current Central Trains franchise. It is planned that the franchise will run until 31 March 2016, the last 2 years and 4 months of which will be conditional upon achieving pre-set performance targets.


2. The East Midlands franchise will be formed from the current Midland Mainline franchise as well as the Liverpool - Norwich and local services in the East Midlands area transferred from the current Central Trains franchise. It is planned that the franchise will run until 31 March 2015, the last year and 4 months of which will be conditional upon achieving pre-set performance targets.


3. The West Midlands franchise will be made up of the remaining services of the current Central Trains franchise and the current Silverlink County services. However, the Snow Hill services may become part of either the West Midlands franchise or the Chiltern franchise depending on the proposal from Chiltern Railways. It is planned that the West Midlands franchise will run until 19 September 2015, the last year and 10 months of which will be conditional upon achieving pre-set performance targets.



The key points of the Cross Country Franchises are:


Capacity: Bidders for the New Cross Country franchise are being asked to price a 30% increase in capacity on key routes. They have also been asked to offer a price without the additional capacity added to ensure that the Department has a comparison which to properly evaluate increased capacity proposals.


Timetable changes - New Cross Country franchise. The following changes are planned:


Cross Country services between Manchester and Scotland will stop in December 2007. Separately, TransPennine Express (TPE) will extend the existing Manchester Airport - Cumbria service to Scotland, offering comparable journey times to today.


From no later than 2008 services between Birmingham and Scotland will be operated by Virgin West Coast


Penzance and destinations in the South West will continue to be served by the same number of Cross Country trains and a new contractual commitment to operate summer services between the North East and North West of England to Newquay.




The key Points of the West Midlands franchise are:


Timetable changes - West Midlands franchise. The timetable operated until December 2008 will be similar to today. Bidders will be asked to price an option for the retention of the Walsall - Wolverhampton service from December 2007. The timetable alterations in 2008 will mean:


A broadly hourly new London - Crewe semi-fast service, serving Trent Valley stations, Stone and Stoke on Trent.


Two trains an hour between Birmingham and Liverpool, calling at the new Liverpool South Parkway station, and two trains per hour between Birmingham and Northampton


Curtailment of the current hourly Birmingham - Walsall - Cannock - Stafford service at Rugely Trent Valley, with a connection at Rugely Trent Valley with the London - Crewe semi-fast service. Bidders are also required to improve Rugely Trent Valley station.


Operationally, it has not been possible to introduce an hourly Birmingham - Manchester semi-fast service.


While it does appear that there will be new services for West Midlands Franchises, the failure to introduce an hourly service between Manchester and Birmingham may have further ramifications in relation to snow hill services being offered to Chiltern Railways.



The key Points of the East Midlands franchise are:


Timetable changes - East Midlands franchise


A dedicated London and Kettering service will be introduced from December 2008, which will pave the way for the extension of London trains through to Corby if a new station is given the go-ahead


A new station, East Midlands Parkway, will be serviced by London - Nottingham services and will get at least 2 trains per hour


No changes to the current Liverpool - Norwich service, except a provision for the service to call at Liverpool South Parkway


DfT has not included all off-peak services between Market Harborough and London in the specification. More popular peak time services will remain and will become faster at the 2008 timetable change. Bidders are free to propose running off-peak services.

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