The managing director of the ScotRail deep alliance Phil Verster has resigned, only a day after he reportedly clashed with Scottish transport minister Humza Yousaf over the cost of giving season ticket holders a week of free travel in compensation for disruption over recent months. The problems have been attributed to the amount of upgrade work which is being carried out in the central belt, including the key electrification scheme between Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh. Mr Verster, who has only been in his job since 2015, is moving to manage the new East West Rail project announced by transport secretary Chris Grayling before Christmas.
A new prospectus for the next Intercity West Coast franchise has been published by the Department for Transport, confirming that the next operator will also be expected to manage the introduction of services on HS2. Phase 1 of the high speed line is due to open in 2026. and the DfT has described the combined project as a 'once in a lifetime opportunity'. Known as the West Coast Partnership franchise, the contract will run from 2019, and the DfT has described its ambitions for the route: "The West Coast must set a new international standard for rail that other countries admire and seek to emulate. The route must be something that passengers want to use, supporting jobs and growth."
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