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2005-03-22 GNE-001
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GNER signs new East Coast franchise


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GNER

GNER signs new East Coast franchise
_______________________________________________________________


date
22 March 2005
source GNER
type Press release



TRAIN operator GNER today announced that it has signed an agreement with the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) to operate a new ten-year franchise on the East Coast Main Line between London and Scotland.

The new franchise will start from 1 May and will run for seven years with a further three years if specified performance targets are met.

Under the deal, GNER will invest more than £125 million to deliver a bigger, more reliable and value for money railway, building on progress to date.

GNER will contribute £1.3 billion of premium payments to Government over the next ten years.

GNER’s chief executive Christopher Garnett said: “Everyone in GNER is delighted to have won a new franchise. We look forward to building a bigger and better railway, running extra services with more reliable and more comfortable trains, and carrying many more passengers. Today’s welcome announcement is the next step in GNER’s continuing development. We’ve come a long way in almost nine years and will go a lot further in the next ten.

“I am very grateful for the fantastic support we have received from passengers across the route. We will be working doubly hard to repay the faith shown in us. I would also like to pay tribute to GNER’s employees who have kept going during recent uncertain months and have continued to deliver an excellent standard of service.”

Key highlights of the new franchise include:

• 13 extra London-Leeds services by December 2007, or earlier, following the completion of an ongoing infrastructure project near Grantham and subject to regulatory approval. This will deliver a record 66 services each weekday on the West Yorkshire route and a full half-hourly service throughout the day. Leeds-London is the biggest long-distance rail market in the UK

• An investment of up to £75m in GNER’s fleet of diesel High Speed Trains. This will include leasing one additional HST as back-up to deliver improved performance and leasing two further HSTs to deliver the planned increase in Leeds services. Together that would increase the size of GNER’s fleet of HSTs from 10 to 13. £25m will be spent transforming the interior of every HST to bring them up to the same high standard of passenger comfort as GNER’s rebuilt electric trains, known as Mallards. Further work will be undertaken to improve the reliability of the entire HST fleet

• The completion of the rebuild of all electric Mallard trains by October 2005

• The roll-out of GNER’s innovative on-board wireless internet service to all trains by May 2007

• A 90% punctuality target by 2010, achieved by a host of initiatives including:
- Creation of a new Integrated Control Centre in York with Network Rail by September 2006
- £4 million on making the route more reliable, including further work on the overhead power lines
- Lease of an extra rescue locomotive

• A £25 million station modernisation programme, including 900 extra car parking spaces, 400 extra covered cycle spaces, lifts at Newark and Grantham, and improved access at all 12 GNER-managed stations

• Tackling fare evasion by a range of measures including automatic ticket barriers at Peterborough, Durham and Newcastle, supported by additional ticket examiners across the route

• At least £3 million on measures to improve passenger security

• Improved travel information to passengers with new information screens in nearby shopping centres, metro and bus stations, as well as real-time bus running information at stations

• Real improvements to transport integration, including new bus-rail links with through ticketing between Darlington and Durham Tees Valley Airport, Doncaster and Robin Hood International Airport, and Newark and Lincoln, plus Taxi-Bus arrangements to improve access to stations

• Easier ticket purchase, including 50 new self-service fastticket machines at stations and more online ticket sales

• Continuation of the 17.30 departure from King’s Cross running through to Edinburgh stopping at all existing stations including Morpeth, Alnmouth, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Dunbar

• Additionally GNER will operate an early morning train to King’s Cross starting from Peterborough, arriving into London before 07.10.

In addition to its contractual commitments, GNER will work with the SRA and Network Rail to develop a £70 million scheme to electrify 15 miles of track between the east of Leeds and Hambleton Junction, which is located on the East Coast Main Line between York and Doncaster.

It would be the first commercial electrification project since railway privatisation and the first to be undertaken by a train operator.

This innovative scheme would make the best use of available capacity for the maximum passenger benefit and would improve reliability at little capital cost. It is part of a proposal to introduce five trains an hour to and from London King's Cross under a new even-interval timetable.

The initiative would increase services between London and Leeds to 80 a day by 2010, as well as provide more journey opportunities for passengers travelling between Doncaster, Grantham, Newark and Peterborough.

Currently, GNER’s electric trains can only enter Leeds City station from the west side, via Wakefield, and that line is close to full capacity.

The electrification scheme would mean that GNER would be able to run into Leeds via the east, from Hambleton Junction, as well as via Wakefield. This would allow GNER to increase further the overall number of Leeds-London services.

When GNER won the first East Coast franchise in 1996 there were 37 services per weekday between Leeds and London. GNER increased that number to 53 in 2002.

That figure will rise to 66 per day within two years when an infrastructure project near Grantham frees up more capacity on the East Coast Main Line.

Under the GNER electrification scheme the number of Leeds-London trains could rise further to 80 per weekday.

That would represent a 116% increase in Leeds-London services this decade.

The Leeds-London route is now the biggest long-distance rail market in the UK. Passenger numbers have risen by 30% in the past two years.

An associated benefit of the electrification scheme would be a reduction in the average Leeds-London journey time from 2hrs 24mins to an average of 2hrs 6mins.


ENDS

Notes to Editors:

• GNER has operated the East Coast franchise for the past nine years, having been awarded it initially in 1996 for seven years. Subsequently a two-year extension was granted which expires at the end of April 2005.
• Since starting, GNER now carries 34% more passengers on 22% more trains.
• It has consistently achieved the highest passenger satisfaction ratings of any UK long-distance operator (according to the SRA’s National Passenger Surveys) and has created the most reliable long-distance train fleet in Britain.


Railhub Archive ::: 2005-03-22 GNE-001





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