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Railhub Archive
1998-06-08 ORR-001
Office of the Rail Regulator


Rail Regulator gives final approval to West Coast upgrade

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Office of the Rail Regulator

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Office of the Rail Regulator

Rail Regulator gives final approval to West Coast upgrade

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8 June 1998
source Office of the Rail Regulator
type Press release

note ORR/98/21

The Rail Regulator, John Swift QC, confirmed today his decision to approve the agreement between Virgin Trains and Railtrack to upgrade services on the West Coast Main Line between London, the West Midlands, North West England and Scotland.

Mr Swift issued a provisional decision to approve the agreement on 3 April. His final decision today follows a final round of consultation with the industry, and discussions with Virgin and Railtrack leading to further improvements to the agreement.

Commenting on his approval, John Swift said:

"My decision today means that commercial objectives and the public interest are at one. I now look forward to Railtrack and Virgin working together with other stakeholders to delivering a West Coast Main Line fit for the twenty-first century.

"Since I published my provisional conclusions in April, the Franchising Director and I have been able to secure a number of improvements to the agreement. I particularly welcome the commitment Virgin have given to additional services to North Wales and to Glasgow.

"I also welcome the commitment which Railtrack have given me to review what is needed to meet the reasonable requirements of freight, other passenger operators and funding bodies. I would expect these reviews to result in action plans which will be the basis of enforceable commitments under the terms of Railtrack's Network Licence."

A number of relatively minor changes to the agreement itself have been made in order to achieve a more effective balance between the interests of Railtrack, Virgin, and other train operators.

Formal signature of the agreement between Railtrack and Virgin is expected to take place later today.

Virgin will also sign an agreement with the Franchising Director, undertaking to provide as part of its West Coast franchise at least six trains per day between London and North Wales, and at least ten trains per day between London and Glasgow. The Regulator had asked for such commitments to be made in his provisional decision on the agreement.


1. The Regulator is announcing today his final conclusions on the proposed agreement between Railtrack and Virgin to upgrade the West Coast Main Line (WCML) - the so-called PUG 2 ("Passenger Upgrade 2) agreement. He issued provisional conclusions on the agreement on 3 April. The final conclusions are similar to the provisional ones.

2. In his draft conclusions, the Regulator invited Railtrack to agree to make a number of commitments under its Network Licence to providing capacity for other users of the West Coast Main Line and to undertaking several reviews of future usage. Railtrack has given these commitinents to the Regulator.

3. The Regulator's provisional decision was that it would be inappropriate to allow protection from competition for Virgin's North Wales services unless Virgin made firm commitments in its franchise agreement to increased levels of service. The Regulator also decided that he should not approve access rights for Virgin to run between London and Edinburgh unless Virgin made franchise commitments to an improved service to Glasgow. Virgin has now made these commitments, and following discussions with the Franchising Director the Regulator has approved protection for the North Wales services. He has also approved the new Edinburgh services.

4. Further information about the details of the PUG 2 project can be obtained from the Railtrack Press Office (telephone 0171 557 829313) and from Will Whitehorn in the Virgin Rail Group Press Office (0171 229 4738). The Rail Regulator, John Swift QC, last week published the results of his review of the way in which the Railtrack network is timetabled. The review was conducted to see whether improvements could be made to the timetabling process to further the interests of rail users.

Railhub Archive ::: 1998-06-08 ORR-001


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