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Sir TophamHatt

Stagecoach Lose EMT to Abellio / Disqualified from 3 Franchises

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The fiction of rail privatisation becomes ever thinner. Politicians have a great wheeze, as the system is state managed with final service delivery contracted out yet politicians have the perfect body armour in the private companies delivery services. Blaming an allegedly incompetent and rapacious private company with no thought other than exploiting the poor and needy always plays well politically and in the media whilst DafT who are the real culprits for most of the things people dislike are coated in Teflon.

 

On pensions, what the government wants (companies to accept open ended liabilities stretching far into the future and outside their control) wouldn't be accepted by any sensible private company. Especially when pension funds are also subject to government interference and revenue raids.

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On 29/04/2019 at 20:01, andyman7 said:

Hmm, there's quite a lot of speculation in this thread which misses the actual problem. The issue is not about the funding of the pension scheme whilst the frachise in operation; it is about potential future liabilities. Whether the TOC pension fund is in surplus now is entirely irrelevant to the problem. Even if it is in surplus now, there will be employees who will not be entitled to draw a pension for 10, 20, 30 years - if you are a 25 year old trolley assistant you are many years away from having your pension due. The nature of franchising means that the DfT signs over the operation of a TOC for a few years; and then offers it again in a new competition. Up until now, bidders signed up to the pension scheme obligations for the duration of the franchise - but in an increasingly uncertain world, the actuaries and auditors flagged up to DfT that there was a potential funding risk to existing obligations between the end of the franchise and employees drawing their pensions. This risk by default sits with the government, so the DfT tried to alter new franchise competitions so that the successful bidder has to agree to make up any potential future shortfall that may emerge in future in relation to the pensions of the staff for the time they were employed during the franchise. Whilst this might sound reasonable at first glance, it represents a potentially open ended long term uncapped liability that no company can reasonably accept.

 

It appears that for strageic reasons a bidder backed by the government of another country has agreed to accept this risk, but it's really a pyrrhic victory for DfT as they have effectively killed off the current franchise process as a competitive process. Given the Williams rail review it's probably just as well because the current model is completely unsustainable, and the game of smoke and mirrors whereby the government continues to pretend that the industry is privatised (because it's useful to be able to demonise evil shareholders for any shortcomings) when it is in practice entirely micromanaged by civil servants in Horseferry Road has really run out of road (rail?). 

 

 

If that is a correct interpretation of the situation then I can only conclude that somebody at DafT is even dafter than we have so far found in that abysmal organisation.   Any employer and any pension fund can only look at and actuarially assess its future liabilities against a present and currently forecast situation.  And even then a lot of it is educated guesswork but it will inevitably be a 'present and currently forecast situation' so it will by implication only apply to the current employer.

 

In the case of a franchise the employer will change when the franchise is re-let but again the employer will only be the current employer for the duration of the period over which they hold the franchise, somebody totally different could hold the next period of the franchise.  In the past in the railway industry BR was the employer and the fund, which is managed by trustees and not by the employer, regularly reviewed its assets against its assessed liabilities and sought changes to contributions to avoid any potential shortfall.  The situation now is in reality no different - the trustees are still responsible for the various sections of the fund and actuarial assessment takes place regularly - but it is inevitably a snapshot of the situation at the time it takes place.

 

So quite how anyone can load liability - as is implied above - onto someone who has ceased to be the employer sounds to me to be the economics of a madhouse or total idiot.    Provided a section of the fund is not allowed to fall into an assessed shortfall there should be no problem, the only consequence might be that a new employer (i.e. franchisee) might find themselves required to pay a higher rate of employer's contributions than they were perhaps expecting but that is nothing new and should be made clear in any bid information documents

 

As it happens I think the franchising model we have in Britain isn't too bad but it needs to be run properly and DafT have seemingly consistently failed to do that since the abolition of the Franchising Director's organisation.   The biggest problem seems to have been an inability to set longer term franchises and properly organise a cap & collar situation for all franchises - again a failing down to DafT.  Similarly micro-management seems to have got totally out of hand leading to a rail franchising system run by those with little or no knowledge of where responsibilities should lie or the timescales involved- recent failures and problems over inoperable timetables are living proof of that sort of incompetence.

 

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Agree and also DAFT getting back at Stagecoach for daring to question the handling of the WCML franchise a few years back  god knows what will happen now perhaps they will only offer contracts just to run trains.Then will there be any improvements for passengers and who will take the risk of new trains? A typical cock up great Britain style.

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4 hours ago, lmsforever said:

Agree and also DAFT getting back at Stagecoach for daring to question the handling of the WCML franchise a few years back  god knows what will happen now perhaps they will only offer contracts just to run trains.Then will there be any improvements for passengers and who will take the risk of new trains? A typical cock up great Britain style.

 

Not all British folk work for the DfT you know....

 

"A typical POLITICAL cock up Great Britain style" would be a better way of putting it. What exactly is the point of Westminster if they continually screw things up these days!

 

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Agree Westminster has no credibility now but what is going to happen we cannot stumble from one crisis to another any longer, we need a new start running our railways  but not BR.

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Stagecoach have engaged a top law firm according to the Telegraph whilst the DFT is being inundated with stuff from other operators. Sorry can't post the link but you can only read the full story if subscribed.

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I really don't think the problem is with the franchise model as originally developed, but rather what it has become and how it is now being (or maybe it might be more apposite to say not being) implemented. Any idea can be implemented badly and end up undermining the credibility of that idea. Unfortunately DfT isn't going away and politically we appear to have arrived at some sort of impasse whereby the only way things will improve is to wrench control away from DfT but the government will refuse to surrender the control they now have. I find it hard to be optimistic about any of it. For all their faults Stagecoach/Virgin have done a good job with the WCML franchise, it's not really very helpful for passengers to see a very good TOC pushed out, it would seem possibly as much as a result of government capriciousness as anything else.

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Search of Google reveals at least this story on the legal proceedings:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/may/08/stagecoach-launches-legal-action-over-rail-franchise-competition-ban

 

And this paywalled articles about Grayling allegedly misleading parliament over the issue:

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/chris-grayling-accused-of-misleading-mps-over-stagecoach-rail-ban-hr3mvsqq3

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Posted (edited)

However, today Abellio have signed the contract for the EMR franchise:

 

Quote

Abellio is pleased and proud to be confirmed today as the new operator of the East Midlands rail franchise by the Department for Transport. This concludes the ‘standstill’ period that followed the Department for Transport’s announcement on 10th April naming Abellio as Winning Bidder for the contract.

Abellio will invest £600 million including: brand new bi-mode intercity trains between the East Midlands, the North and London; a high-quality, dedicated, electric train service between London, Luton Airport and Corby; and the introduction of faster, modern, refurbished trains across the whole network. This investment will also see transformed stations, improved ticketing and accessibility, enhanced training and benefits for employees, including 30 new apprenticeships each year for young people. There will be closer working with Network Rail to maximise the benefits of the ongoing £1.5 billion Midland Main Line upgrade.

Dominic Booth, Managing Director of Abellio UK, said:

“Abellio is pleased and proud to have been confirmed as Franchisee for the East Midlands Railway.

We’re looking forward to working with the East Midlands Trains management and frontline team who have laid such excellent foundations for us to build on to deliver the vision developed with local people and stakeholders.

“With all trains replaced and much higher capacity, our new franchise will renew the railway and support communities large and small across the East Midlands and beyond. “


https://www.abellio.com/news/ps600-million-improvements-east-midlands-railway-abellio-confirmed

 

 

From East Mids:

Quote

Following the initial franchise announcement, yesterday it was confirmed that contracts for the new East Midlands franchise have been signed for Abellio to operate services on the East Midlands Railway from 18th August 2019 to 2027.

 

This also marks the end of the stand still period, as now we begin the process of mobilisation. We will continue to keep you updated as we engage with Abellio’s mobilisation team and learn more about their plans to enhance the East Midlands railway over the coming years.

As always, our focus should remain on delivering a safe and punctual railway. Thank you for your continued efforts in delivering a great service to our customers.

Edited by Sir TophamHatt
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DAFT seem to be prescribing the new liveries and boy are they dull grey is the colour typical product from civil servants  no imagination at all. When we get a new transport minister lets hope he or she is bold and willing to stand up to DAFT and provide us all with a decent rail service and also will tell interfering mayors from the north to go away.

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1 hour ago, lmsforever said:

provide us all with a decent rail service and also will tell interfering mayors from the north to go away.

the north wants decent rail services - and the mayors have every right to say so

 

mike james

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Not sure the link above works now but I've attached a pic. 

 

Route Split:

Bidders were directed to assume that the Liverpool to Nottingham part of the services would transfer to another TOC in December 2021 but no further details were provided.

 

Fleet:

There will be a gradual replacement of the entire train fleet by December 2022.

  • Replacement of single car Class 153s in first 6 months
  • Modern electric trains for Corby commuter services from December 2020
  • Regional fleet fully replaced by modern diesel trains by December 2021
  • New bi-mode trains introduced in December 2022

By the end of 2022 the fleet will be made up of just 3 fleets which will fully meet the needs of the markets they serve: - EMR Intercity - EMR Electrics - EMR Regional

 

The HST fleet PRM mods:
At the time that the bid was submitted we were expecting work to have been undertaken on the existing EMT HST fleet before the end of the current franchise. We are working with DfT and EMT to develop the best solution possible, given that no work has yet been undertaken.

 

There is an emphasis on shared services, based in Glasgow.

IMG-20190617-WA0000.jpg

emr-390x220_1.jpg

Edited by Sir TophamHatt

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15 hours ago, mikejames said:

the north wants decent rail services - and the mayors have every right to say so

 

mike james

 

 

I doubt anybody would argue with that.  But they should be talking to the organ grinder (i.e DafT) and not the poor monkey of a franchisee who has been trying to dance to the ever changing tunes played by DafT (and to some extent NR).

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Quote

By the end of 2022 the fleet will be made up of just 3 fleets which will fully meet the needs of the markets they serve: - EMR Intercity - EMR Electrics - EMR Regional

 

It will be interesting to see what stock they use on the Derby - Nottingham - Norwich service, as whatever ends us as their 'regional' trains aren't going to be entirely suitable for use on both short distance local stopping services, and a long distance cross county express service. You'd hope they use the intercity bi-mode trains on this. 

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8 minutes ago, pete_mcfarlane said:

 

It will be interesting to see what stock they use on the Derby - Nottingham - Norwich service, as whatever ends us as their 'regional' trains aren't going to be entirely suitable for use on both short distance local stopping services, and a long distance cross county express service. You'd hope they use the intercity bi-mode trains on this. 

I imagine initially the Class 170s they will be acquiring from somewhere (it's been suggested Anglia but I think they are going to TfW for the Heart of Wales line, unless they are just the 2 car fleet and EMR are getting the 3 car units).  If they get three car 170s they are ideal for such mixed traffic, having worked the Nottingham to Cardiff route which is somewhere between an Intercity and Local service with frequent stops and many people making relatively short journeys.  The Nottingham-Norwich service isn't really an Intercity route whatever the length of the journey, the majority of users will be making shorter journeys, but for those that are making the through journey, with 2+2 seating, air conditioning, wi-fi (eventually as seems to be the case now) and a mix of airline and table seats means they should be as comfortable as the competition (the bus or the car).  Again, it gives a consistent product out of Nottingham with 170s on the Birmingham-Cardiff corridor and 170s on the Peterborough-Nottingham route.

Let's not forget, the forst Midland Mainline franchise used 170s on the semi-fasts from Nottingham to London, and Anglia used to use the 3 car 170s on a Yarmouth-Norwich-London rotation and on the Norwich to Basingstoke routes.  I travelled on both services when I lived in Norfolk and I found the 170s on the Liverpool St run very comfortable and pleasant trains, so I think if they end up on the Derby-Nottingham to Norwich run they will be fine.  Eventually, if they are replaced by something else bi-modal (although I think they are talking about the Intercity fleet only being replaced by bi-modes) then the Anglia Bionic Bunny Flirts look as if they are going to be cracking machines and would give a good, uniform product east of Peterborough if EMR decided to follow suit with a follow on order.

I do like the typeface.  Very post-war LMS.  I wonder though if the DfT are insisting all new franchises are called "Railway"?  We've had South Western Railway, Great Western Railway, now East Midlands Railway.

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I can't help but think people have short memories nowadays. The Norwich Liverpool service was operated using 170s in Central trains days, the units working turns about with 158s and also doing commuter runs.

Personally I don't like 170s much, having spent 12 hours at a time on them in my catering trolley days. After 7 or 8 hours breathing the same air all I wanted was the doors open so I could get some fresher air. 

Also I think it's highly unlikely the Matlock-Norwich service will see bi-modes any time soon. The only electrified bit is between Grantham and Peterborough and I suspect that will be the case for many years to come.

Interesting to note the comments and picture in another thread about a fairly recently awarded other Abellio franchise.

 

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Interesting they’ve chosen an LNWR colour for what are predominantly Midland services. 

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Posted (edited)

Stagecoach confirms in its preliminary results announced to day that it expects to end its franchised rail operations in November 2019 and 'no plans to bid for new UK rail franchises on current risk profile'.

 

Stagecoach prelims

 

Edited by 4630
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Well it’s all but over, the final EMT services will be arriving at their destinations in the next hour or so, the website is already directing to an EMR holding page and I understand Abellio are to unveil the first train in its new livery imminently.

 

I took a final trip today, York , the furthest I’ve ever been on an EMT train and the mood among staff seems rather sombre, which I found strange considering a number of their colleagues are on strike due to their differences with EMT.

 

There were chocolates being handed out as a token thank you marking the 11 years of EMT services and fitting that the final southbound HST service was formed of the commemorative set, though unfortunate that the stock had already been rebranded.

 

As a daily traveller, I have to thank the staff for their efforts, EMT didn’t always get it right but they were among the best at trying.  I hope that the future does indeed bring all the benefits EMR are promising and that they recognise the huge role the team in every part of the organisation plays.

30A02D75-5014-4D5E-97DD-F6CFCD551D77.jpeg

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Not sure that livery suits that unit....

Are they going to name it Professor Plum?

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Wonder how it would look with the mid level band in cream or similar. Works in my head, probably rejected at Photoshop mock up stage for good reason...

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