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Railhub Archive
2000-08-17 SEC-001
Sea Containers


Sea Containers' GNER holdings subsidiary selected to bid for largest U.K. rail franchise, South West Trains

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South West Trains

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Sea Containers

Sea Containers' GNER holdings subsidiary selected to bid for largest U.K. rail franchise, South West Trains

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17 August 2000
source Sea Containers
type Press release

Hamilton, Bermuda, August 17, 2000. The Shadow Strategic Rail Authority in the U.K. announced today that three parties have been selected to bid for Britain's South West Trains franchise: Stagecoach Holdings (the incumbent franchisee), FirstGroup plc in association with the Dutch Railways, and GNER Holdings, Sea Containers' wholly-owned subsidiary which holds the Great North
Eastern Railway franchise.

The South West Trains network is composed of three parts: London inner suburban, London outer suburban and long distance trains from London to the southwest coast. The train service as operated by Stagecoach has a poor reputation. Trains are often filthy, lavatories often don't work, there have been frequent cancellations due to lack of drivers and overcrowding is notorious. There is every evidence that Stagecoach has 'milked' the franchise for every penny of profit. GNER, on the other hand, has at the expense of franchise profits done the opposite. Every GNER train is cleaned on the outside every night and on the inside before each departure. GNER has added more services, including recently two trains leased from Eurostar, to reduce overcrowding. Staff are highly trained and motivated. Lavatories are kept clean and significant investment has been made in station facilities such as lounges and ticket offices.

The FirstGroup competes with South West Trains through their Great Western Trains subsidiary, so their involvement in this franchise might require approval of the competition authorities and a government policy determination to reduce competition on certain routes.

Waterloo Station is the main terminus of South West Trains and it lacks sufficient capacity to handle demand at peak periods. GNER Holdings has proposed the lengthening of platforms at aterloo and a shift to doubledeck trains for the London outer suburban services. It has proposed a major new parkway station near Reading to take traffic away from Great Western and bring it into Waterloo in the midst of the 'City' of London. It has also proposed new parkway stations to serve the M3 and A3 motorways with major car parks attached.

It is proposing all new train sets for the long distance routes. All London very old 'slam door' suburban trains are being replaced as part of a program initiated by the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority last year. All stations would be vastly improved by making them safe and attractive with staff on duty whenever services operate.

According to James B. Sherwood, President of Sea Containers, 'what GNER has to offer is a total transformation of the travel experience using the expertise gained on the East Coast Main Line. The travelling public knows that GNER can deliver clean trains, polite staff, extra car parking, safe stations, improved punctuality, clean and functioning lavatories and efficient telesales, internet and machine ticketing. Our passengers look forward to a 'treat' when travelling on GNER trains, not a 'treatment' as suffered by passengers on South West trains today. Our goal will be to make the standards of South West Trains comparable to those of GNER'.

GNER Holdings has promised a major capital investment in South West Trains over a 20 year franchise period. Railtrack will bear the cost of track, signalling and power upgrade components of this investment. Much of the new rolling stock will be financed by Rolling Stock Leasing Companies. Sea Containers will fund new stations, long distance train rolling stock, car parks and ticketing operations.

In the year ended April 30, 1999 South West Trains had revenue of £421 million ($632 million) including subsidy.

The Shadow Strategic Rail Authority has indicated that the winner of the bid for South West Trains will definitely take over the franchise when the current franchise expires in two years' time.

For further information please contact:
Steve Lawrence at Public Relations and Communications, Sea Containers Services
Ltd., Sea Containers House, 20 Upper Ground, London SE1 9PF. Tel: +44 020
7805 5830.

Railhub Archive ::: 2000-08-17 SEC-001


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