Thursday, 17 December 2009

DB tank directed onto ATOC lawn

Telegrammed by our International Correspondent
In summer ATOC announced that the entire National Rail Enquiries call-centre operation would be outsourced, at a cost of nearly 200 British jobs, to Bombay.

But now the trade association for Train Operating Companies has been outflanked by one of its own members. `

Plucky little Chiltern Railway, owned by Deutsche Bahn (one of the worlds largest rail and logistics operators) has dumped The Trainline as their on-line retailer in favour of an undisclosed supplier which also provides a UK based call centre.

The new arrangement will come into force from 1st February 2010, according to a confidential staff briefing issued yesterday.

Under the leadership of Adrian 'Hoppy' Shooter, now happily recovered from his recent knee operation, Chiltern has gained a reputation as a bit of a pathfinder TOC - witness the successful delivery of multiple Evergreen projects compared to the WCML upgrade fiasco.

Chiltern decided on the move due to customer complaints about Trainline failings, not least the Indian call centre's preference for selling Beardie Rail inclusive tickets from Brum and Kidderminster to London, rather than cheaper Chiltern only routings.

Since Chiltern is the model for longer franchises, Exponent Private Equity (who paid an eyewatering £163 million to Natex, Virgin and Stagecoach for the Trainline in 2006) must be feeling a tad nervous.

But not half as nervous as ATOC, whose former Chairman, Adrian Shooter, acts as an unpaid 'informal advisor' to the shadow Tory transport team.