Arriva welcomes new CrossCountry rail franchise award
10 July 2007
Arriva plc, one of Europe’s leading bus and rail operators, today welcomed the decision of the Department for Transport (DfT) to award it the new CrossCountry rail franchise.
The CrossCountry network is the most extensive rail franchise in the UK. Stretching from Aberdeen to Penzance, and from Stansted to Cardiff, it covers around 1,500 route miles and calls at over 100 stations.
Arriva will run the franchise under a new CrossCountry brand and livery. The centre of operations will be in Birmingham, at the heart of the network and the largest city served by it.
Arriva’s successful bid for the franchise featured the following benefits for travellers:
35 per cent increase in seating capacity in critical evening peak on principal routes by June 2009
- At-seat catering on all routes, for all passengers, not just First Class
- Radical improvements in ticketing and reservation booking, including home printing of tickets and tickets by mobile phone, with discounted tickets available much closer to the start of travel
- Investment in improved rolling stock, with all other trains refurbished to the standard of the popular Voyagers
- The reintroduction of HSTs to provide 550-seat trains on busy routes
- Wi-Fi available to all Voyager and HST passengers, free in First Class.
The franchise will run from 11 November 2007 to 31 March 2016, with the last two years and five months conditional upon achieving agreed performance targets. Annual revenue is expected to exceed £600 million in its first full year, including franchise support payments which reflect the current inability of the franchise to cover its operating costs through fares alone. However, by supporting growth in passenger numbers and improving the quality of services, Arriva is committed to reducing government support on the franchise to almost zero before the end of the franchise.
Arriva will make cheaper fares easier to obtain closer to the point and time of travel. Saver tickets will continue to be available on relevant services at regulated prices. Whilst prices of the most flexible, full-price fares will rise by an average of 3.4 per cent above RPI, becoming more focused on those who need the added value of maximum flexibility in their travel plans, almost all travellers will have lower-cost alternatives.
David Martin, Arriva’s chief executive, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to operate this major franchise, which advances Arriva’s UK rail presence significantly.
“The CrossCountry network has many existing strengths but our stakeholder research has helped us to pinpoint important areas where we can improve the passenger experience and make the business more efficient. Our proposals and substantial targeted investment will make rail travel more attractive and support growth in passenger numbers by increasing seating capacity.
“Arriva’s new CrossCountry operation will support growth in regional travel by rail, help to ease congestion and contribute to improving the UK’s environment. With innovations in technology, and expertise which benefits from our existing success in rail operations in the UK and across mainland Europe, we are confident of meeting both rising demand and passengers’ rising expectations for quality of service. With franchise support payments almost eliminated by the end of the term, we are confident of providing an excellent result for the taxpayer as well as improved services for passengers and a reasonable expectation of fair returns for the risks borne by our shareholders.”
Website link: www.crosscountrytrains.co.uk
Notes to Editors
- Arriva is one of the largest private sector providers of passenger transport in mainland Europe, employing more than 34,000 people and providing more than one billion passenger journeys every year.
- Arriva provides transport services including buses, trains, commuter coaches and water buses in nine European countries: Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Operations in a tenth country, Poland, are due to start later this year.
- Arriva’s rail services operate in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK with Polish services scheduled to start in late 2007.
More and better trains:
- 35% increase in seating capacity in critical evening peak on principal routes by June 2009
- Nearly 20,000 extra seats through Birmingham every weekday
- Introduction of five High Speed Train (HST) sets each with eight state-of-the-art refurbished coaches (total of 550 seats), providing longer trains with more seats and luggage space on the major North East-South West route
- Longer Voyager trains on other key services
- Internal reworking of Voyager and Class 170 fleets to meet customer priorities for more seats and more luggage space
- Additional services to base service pattern providing through journey opportunities between Edinburgh and Reading, Bournemouth and Newcastle, and Penzance and Manchester
- Additional late evening services to and from Stansted Airport
High quality service on board:
- Introduction of at-seat catering, reflecting customer preferences
- Wi-Fi access for all seats on all HSTs and Voyagers, and improved mobile phone reception on Voyagers
- First Class accommodation on all trains, including ex-Central Trains service
- Hot plated food available to First Class passengers
- Three members of staff providing on board service on long distance trains
- Staff more accessible and visible to passengers
A ticketing and information revolution:
Centred around a new internet retailing service, providing:
- Easy to use service, guiding towards the cheapest fares and best interchange options
- Print at home and mobile phone ticketing
- Personalised journey information, with text updates on itinerary
- Wider and better information on stations and connecting transport services
- Flexible reservations systems to cope with late changes to journey plans
- £1 million investment in more ticket machines and information screens at key stations
- Information campaign on alternative locations (to Birmingham New Street) for interchanging between trains
- Additional staffing to provide help and assistance during December 2008 timetable change
A railway contributing to environmental improvements:
- Training staff in environmentally-friendly ways of working
- Reducing on-board waste and increasing recycling
- Cooperating with industry and Arriva initiatives to develop alternative fuels
- Encouraging modal shift to rail by providing more trains with more seats
A secure railway:
- Introducing a new ‘Secure Trains Scheme’ to give passengers confidence about their on-board security
- Working with industry partners to extend Secure Station Accreditation across key CrossCountry calling points
- Employing additional security staff
Staff and stakeholders:
- £1.4 million to be invested annually in staff training and development
- Regular employee surveys
- Consultation on new staff uniforms
- Regular stakeholder events across the whole franchise area
- Stakeholder and customer consultation on restructured December 2008 timetable