Virgin East Coast Mainline bid
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East Coast Main Line
Virgin Rail Group Holdings Ltd
West Coast Trains Ltd
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Virgin East Coast Mainline bid
type Press release
Virgin Rail Group (Virgin and Stagecoach plc) today revealed its proposals for the InterCity East Coast franchise. Its best and final offer for the route was submitted to the shadow Strategic Rail Authority on Monday June 26th.
Virgin Stagecoach remains firmly committed to the creation of a new high speed line for the route and believes this is the best option to provide additional capacity and cater for passenger growth. This new Virgin Stagecoach bid will enable immediate improvements on the existing East Coast route with long-term options irrespective of whether or not the high speed line is built. This plan will deliver immediate passenger benefits with investment in trains, stations and better journey opportunities.
The Virgin Stagecoach bid addresses the key capacity issues on the route. Creation of the high speed line will enable available capacity on the route to be doubled and serve East Coast communities that have been bypassed by the current operator. It will also allow the requirements of other passenger and freight operators who use the East Coast rail corridor to be accommodated.
The Virgin Stagecoach proposals will enable immediate improvements to be made. By 2005 all the trains will either be new or completely rebuilt. More services to more destinations will be added. The bid is geared to exploiting the potential of the high speed line if it is built.
To summarise, the initial benefit of the Virgin Stagecoach bid is a:§ New or rebuilt train fleet by 2005§ All journeys speeded up by 2005§ New range of destinations served § 40% more capacity by 2005§ Further 12% capacity increase from 2007§ £47 million investment on car parks and station improvements§ £35 million investment on improved infrastructure reliability
The high speed line proposals would bring substantial private investment into the railway. Virgin Stagecoach has teamed up with World-leading project management company Bechtel to deliver the high speed line infrastructure, if the sSRA adopt the high speed line approach. Bechtel say: “The high speed line timetable is demanding but achievable.” Upgrading of the existing East Coast Main Line will be carried out by Railtrack.
The Virgin Stagecoach bid also has a unique approach to the trains that will be used. The trains must be capable of working on the existing line - and also on any future high speed line. These unique requirements and the determination to reduce journey times means that tilting trains are not suitable for the East Coast route. On most East Coast journeys, a tilting train will be no quicker than Virgin Stagecoach’s new train fleet.
Virgin Stagecoach plan to completely rebuild the existing East Coast fleet of electric trains as Virgin Vitesse trains. Internally, these will be completely gutted and rebuilt to a similar level of passenger comfort to the new Pendolino trains being built for Virgin Stagecoach’s West Coast route. Diesel locomotives will be added to these trains meaning they can operate over both electrified and non-electrified lines.
The diesel locomotives will provide extra power giving increased acceleration leading to better journey times and improved reliability across the whole of the East Coast network.
In 2007, the Virgin Vitesse fleet will be expanded with an extra 8 trains to operate new services to Teesside and Hull.
If the high speed line is built, Virgin Stagecoach will order another 36 SuperVitesse trains, which would all be in service if the high speed line is opened – and a further 10 Vitesse trains to operate over the ‘Classic’ East Coast route.
The Train fleet:
Year Train Fleet
2000 31 electric trains 9 diesel High Speed Trains
2005 31 Virgin Vitesse diesel/electric trains 18 Virgin SuperVitesse electric trains
2007 39 Virgin Vitesse diesel/electric and diesel trains 18 Virgin SuperVitesse electric trains
2009 39 Virgin Vitesse diesel/electric and diesel trains [*] 30 Virgin SuperVitesse electric trains [**][*] Increases to 49 if the high speed line is built[**] Increases to 54 if the high speed line is built
The Virgin Stagecoach proposal provides the best solution for the East Coast route, either with, or without the high speed line. The proposal will bring a core train service to a number of towns that should already have been a key part of the route, ensuring as many towns and cities as possible can benefit. New services are planned to key centres such as Teesside, Lincoln, Sheffield and the Eastern Counties. More through trains will run between London and Aberdeen/Inverness.
The Virgin Stagecoach plan, based on the high speed line, will bring dramatic journey time reductions as well as a substantial improvement in passenger comfort.
Key Journey times and Frequencies (average journey times/trains):Journey time 2000 Journey time 2009 Frequency 2000 Frequency 2009London-Edinburgh 4hr 25min 3hr 11min Up to 2 trains/hour 4 trains/hourLondon-Newcastle 2hr 56min 1hr 59min 2 trains/hour 5 trains/hourLondon-Darlington 2hr 21min 1hr 51min Up to 2 trains/hour 2 trains/hourLondon-York 1hr 52min 1hr 29min 2-3 trains/hour 3 trains/hour London-Bradford 2hr 34min 1hr 51min 3 trains/day 1 trains/hourLondon-Leeds 2hr 24min 1hr 32min 1 train/hour + extra in peak times 3 trains/hourLondon-Doncaster 1hr 46min 1hr 09min Up to 3 trains/hour 3 trains/hourLondon-Sheffield ** 1hr 21min ** 1 train/hour** Currently via Midland Main Line2009 details are based on use of high speed line
Virgin Stagecoach is also committing £47 million to deal with priority East Coast blackspots at Newcastle and Doncaster. The investment will also allow much-needed attention to be given to car parking facilities at key East Coast stations. There is also a proposal to introduce multi-modal Smartcard ticketing and internet-based ticket booking and collection systems.
Virgin Chairman Sir Richard Branson said: “This is truly a proposal that will deliver a 21st Century railway for the East Coast Main Line. We have listened to what people want and have not been swayed by the issue of tilting trains, which whilst totally suited to our West Coast route do not enhance the East Coast franchise. To give the cities and counties served by the East Coast the train service they deserve a new high speed line is the only option. This will allow us to challenge the domestic airlines operating between London and Scotland and provide a real alternative to the clogged motorways. Our bid will make that possible, whilst maximising the passenger benefits over the first ten years of the franchise.”
Brian Souter, Chairman of Stagecoach plc, welcomed the bid. “Virgin Rail Group has already demonstrated its record of commitment and investment on its West Coast route. It is now planning to do the same for the towns and cities served by the East Coast rail route. This phased approach will work irrespective of which long term solution is adopted for the route. This best and final bid will address capacity at an early stage and will help to relieve overcrowding. It also avoids wasteful investment in tilt – a dead-end solution for the East Coast.”
Railhub Archive ::: 2000-07-03 VIR-001