The Department for Transport has been heavily criticised by a Parliamentary committee for leaving taxpayers to take all the financial risk associated with three major rolling stock contracts worth a total of £10.5 billion. MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Committee of Public Accounts, said: “The Department for Transport’s decision to buy the new trains for Intercity Express and Thameslink has left the taxpayer bearing all the risk. If passenger forecasts are wrong and fewer new trains are needed in future taxpayers will have to pick up the bill."
New timetables boost services, but Network Rail is under fire
The launch of new National Rail timetables has seen a station added to the network in South Wales as well as more routes and services in other areas, including the restoration of through London services for Shrewsbury and Blackpool, but progress on another new station at Ilkeston in Derbyshire has been delayed. At the same time, Network Rail has been rebuked by the Office of Rail Regulation over its performance since the start of Control Period 5 in April.
Passenger figures rise again
Statistics published today by the Office of Rail Regulation say that the number of passenger journeys on franchised rail services reached 407.7 million between July and September this year, a 4.4 per cent increase on the same quarter last year. The ORR said it was the highest number of journeys recorded in a quarter since the present series of data collection began in 2002-03.
Controversial East Coast contract signed
The Department for Transport has confirmed that it has signed the East Coast contract with Inter City Railways, a joint venture between Stagecoach Group and Virgin Trains. The award of an eight-year franchise was announced in late November, but could not be legally completed until a 'standstill' period had expired. Unions and other campaigners had opposed the award, saying that Intercity East Coast should have remained in the public sector.
Court rejects legal challenge to HS2
THE Court of Appeal has found in the government’s favour by agreeing with the High Court’s previous judgment that a Strategic Environmental Assessment was not required before making safeguarding directions to protect the planned route for Phase One of HS2.
New trains set to reduce West Coast overcrowding
One of the most overcrowded routes in Britain will benefit from ten extra four-car trains from 14 December, when national rail timetables are revised for the coming year. London Midland, which has been heavily criticised for cancellations and extreme overcrowding on its trains between London Euston, Milton Keynes Central and Birmingham New Street, said it will be providing an extra 139,000 seats a week. But one angry passenger is taking his complaints about the operator's performance to the transport secretary and safety bodies.
Keolis, Amey take over on Docklands Light Railway
The Docklands Light Railway concession has passed to a partnership of Keolis and Amey after eight years with Serco. Control changed yesterday morning, and the new operator, known as 'KeolisAmey Docklands', is now set to hold the contract until at least 2021.