Three vie with Virgin for rail franchise
Daily Telegraph: 19/09/2006
Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Rail will face tough competition in its battle to carry on running the Cross Country train franchise.
Virgin Rail is one of four qualifying bidders
The Department for Transport (DfT) announced that Virgin is one of four companies to have qualified as bidders for the new franchise, which will start operating in November 2007.
Virgin is up against three companies, all with experience of running passenger services - Arriva, FirstGroup and National Express.
Cross Country services, which take in nearly the whole of Britain, have been run by Virgin since 1997.
The new Cross Country franchise takes in services on the current Cross Country franchise as well as Stansted to Birmingham and Cardiff to Nottingham services transferred from the current Central Trains franchise.
It is planned that the franchise will run until March 2016, the last two years and four months of which will be conditional upon achieving pre-set performance targets.
The DfT also announced today the qualifying bidders for two more franchises, both of which will also start to be operated from November 2007.
Arriva, FirstGroup, National Express and Stagecoach will compete for the East Midlands franchise, which will run until March 31, with a similar two years, four months proviso to that for Cross Country.
The East Midlands franchise will be formed from the current Midland Mainline franchise (currently operated by National Express) as well as the Liverpool to Norwich service and local services in the East Midlands area transferred from the current Central Trains franchise.
Govia and MTR Corporation of Hong Kong will compete with a joint venture between Serco and NedRailways for the West Midlands franchise, which will run until September 2015, with the last year and 10 months being conditional on achieving pre-set performance targets.
The West Midlands franchise will be made up of the remaining services of the current Central Trains franchise (operated by National Express) and the current Silverlink County services (also operated by National Express).
However, the Snow Hill services may become part of either the West Midlands franchise or the Chiltern franchise, depending on a proposal from Chiltern Railways.