Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Virgin déjà vu!

This from E. L. Bowe...

Stagecoach's apparent sang froid in the face of the Virgin Trains East Coast losses is easily explained - they have been here before.

An infrastructure owner fails to deliver upgrades vital to an ambitious intercity franchise plan?

Sounds familiar? Of course, it's the West Coast Route Modernisation debacle all over again.

True, Stagecoach and Virgin don't have the nuclear option of the WCML PUG2 contract which could have holed Network Rail below the waterline, but that's not needed when Network Rail is on the job, with vital capacity schemes like freight loops, Werrington grade separation and Woodwalton four tracking are sliding to the right and are now well into the second half of CP6 .

We'll know it really is groundhog day when Mr Kipling is recalled to descope the scheme and devise a rescue timetable.

UPDATE: Ministerial roles and responsibilities

Latest list of ministerial roles and responsibilities:

Secretary of State – Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

  • Oversight of all areas
  • EU Exit

Minister of State – Rt Hon John Hayes CBE MP
  • Legislation Minister, and Lead Minister for Parliamentary Liaison and Coordination
    • Package Holiday Bill
    • Autonomous and Electric Road Vehicles Bill
    • Spaceflight Bill
    • Contingency planning EU Exit
  • Maritime, including London International Shipping Week
  • Skills
  • Taxis

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Dr Jesse Norman MP
  • Strategic and local roads
  • Road freight and safety
  • Buses
  • Cycling
  • Light rail
  • Devolution, including Northern Powerhouse
  • Environment and Technology
  • Housing

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Paul Maynard MP
  • Rail
  • Crossrail
  • Smart Ticketing
  • HS2 Policy and Legislation
  • Accessibility (across all modes)
  • Rail Security

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State – Lord Callanan
  • Aviation
  • International relationships
  • Security
  • Legislation in the House of Lords

East Coast - a franchise that keeps on giving

Stagecoach have published their results today.

And they make painful reading, with the company recording an £84.1m exceptional charge to provide for anticipated losses under the VTEC contract over the next two years and a £44.8m non-cash write down on the franchises value.

Chief Executive, Martin Griffiths, said: “We are engaged in discussions with the Department for Transport regarding our respective contractual rights and obligations under the current Virgin Trains East Coast franchise and reflecting the reprioritisation of Network Rail's infrastructure programme. 

"However, separately we have made financial provisions to reflect the short-term outlook for that business over the next two years, including in view of the weak growth environment affecting the UK rail sector as a whole. 

"We are disappointed to report losses at Virgin Trains East Coast. However, I am confident that we can return the business to profitability and build on the significant benefits we have delivered to date for customers and taxpayers."

Stagecoach remains optimistic that the franchise will be profitable by 2019.

Of course much of this may depend on whether NR can deliver on the upgrades to the ECML it promised in CP5? 

Oh, and a recast of the proposed Thameslink timetable?

We shall see.