Unions and transport campaigners have been staging a demonstration today outside the London headquarters of Network Rail at King's Cross as the company passed wholly into the public sector. The not-for-profit company is a now a government body following a change in the way its debt is classified for statistical purposes, but the Department for Transport has denied that the change amounts to full nationalisation, while reports have been circulating that ministers are uncomfortable with the company’s new status.
North Wales town welcomes the return of its trains
The train service between Harlech and Pwllheli in North Wales was running again today following the rebuilding of a viaduct. The line had been closed north of Harlech for the bridge work, but the route was also badly affected by savage storms last winter.
West Midlands redoubling completed
The railway between Barnt Green and Redditch reopened this morning after an eight-week closure to allow a 3km section in the Alvechurch area to be doubled. Network Rail took advantage of the closure to add a second platform and improve accessibility at Alvechurch station. The doubled line will allow three services an hour between Barnt Green and Redditch in both directions from December rather than the two each hour which run at the moment.
New Southeastern managing director named
David Statham has been named as Southeastern's new managing director. He will replace Charles Horton, who is taking the reins at the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise. The appointment means that the two franchises have essentially swapped managing directors, and also involves a move for David from FirstGroup to Govia.
Northern and TransPennine shortlists revealed
The Department for Transport has published the shortlists for the next Northern and TransPennine Express franchises, which are due to be awarded in Octiober 2015 and start in the following April. It said the bidders will 'be expected to show how they will make the most of the government’s £1billion investment programme for the rail network in the north of England, which will provide faster and more reliable journeys, more capacity, better trains and improved connections for passengers across the region'.
'No decision yet' on January's fare changes
The announcement today of the Retail Price Index for July has been seen as a key indicator of how much rail fares are likely to rise in January. Demonstrations against the expected increase are taking place outside more than 40 major stations this morning. The RPI for July is traditionally used as the benchmark, but it is not yet known what the exact formula will be for 2015.
Private sector operators challenge nationalisation
A senior industry figure has spoken out against Labour's recently-agreed proposals to allow the government to compete for future franchises. The Department for Transport currently runs intercity services on the East Coast Main Line via its subsidiary Directly Operated Railways, but this operation is set to return to the private sector in March next year. Unions and transport campaigners have been pointing to the level of premiums paid by East Coast since National Express surrendered the contract in 2009 and arguing that the taxpayer has been gaining from nationalisation, but the government has remained firm.