A recently appointed transport minister may have brought herself into conflict with the Prime Minister. Claire Perry has spoken out against the devolution of more powers to Scotland, which has voted to stay in the United Kingdom. David Cameron has reaffirmed his pledge to transfer more responsibility to Holyrood, but Ms Perry said: "There will be a whole raft of goodies on offer for Scotland that will be paid for by us south of the border."
No railway plan if Scotland votes for independence
Railnews has been told that the Department for Transport has no contingency plan for the railway industry if the Scottish people vote in favour of becoming independent today. The admission has come from a transport minister.
Govia takes over on Thameslink Great Northern
Responsibility for trains on the Thameslink and Great Northern routes passed from FirstGroup to Govia at 02.00, marking the moment when Britain's largest rail passenger franchise was launched. Govia Thameslink Railway, also branded GTR, will now operate trains on both sides of London for the next seven years. Some Southeastern routes will be added in December, and the present Southern network will be merged with GTR in July 2015, creating the largest rail franchise in the country. GTR, which replaces First Capital Connect, will employ around 6,500 people. On average it is expected to carry about 273 million passengers a year and earn annual revenues of approximately £1.3 billion.
Work starts on short but complex Crossrail tunnel
The boring of the last Crossrail tunnel to be dug in east London has begun. Tunnel machine Ellie has started her 900 metre journey from Limmo Peninsula near Canning Town towards the Victoria Dock Portal in east London. It is one of Crossrail's shortest but also most complex tunnels, which must avoid other railways in the area as well as two rivers.
Southeastern franchise extended by direct award
The Southeastern franchise has been extended until June 2018 by a direct award from the Department for Transport. The new contract includes a commitment to spend more than £70 million on improved passenger information systems, additional staff and maintenance of stations and trains, but the RMT union has condemned the extension as a 'reward for failure'. Rail minister Claire Perry said: “I know passengers on this route haven’t always received the service that they deserve, which is why I am absolutely determined that today marks a fresh start."
Government urges operators to target overcrowding
The Department for Transport is urging train operators to do more to combat overcrowding on peak time trains. The DfT has revealed that the most overcrowded train in England last year was the 16.46 London Midland departure from London Euston for Crewe which had a load factor of 211 per cent, meaning that more than half the passengers on board had to stand. Transport Minister Claire Perry has reacted to the figures by challenging the rail industry to find new ways to provide more seats on busy trains.
East Coast profits and passenger numbers up
The nationalised Intercity East Coast franchise has reported a rise in profits to £225.3 million before tax. The comparable figure last year was £208.7 million. East Coast paid premiums and dividends of £216.8 million to the Department for Transport in 2013-14, up from £202.8 million in the previous year, and the results seem likely to fuel fresh opposition to the reprivatisation of East Coast in 2015.