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2001-12-03 STG-001
Stagecoach Group

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Stagecoach presents a railway solution


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vertical integration



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Stagecoach Group

Stagecoach presents a railway solution
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date
3 December 2001
source Stagecoach Group
type Press release



Stagecoach Group, one of Britain's biggest rail operators, today unveils detailed proposals for vertical integration within the country's rail network, to restore the close relationship between wheel and track on Britain's railways.

The group believes the proposals, contained in a discussion paper 'A Platform for Change', bring a railwayman's solution to the problems of Britain's railways.

The intention is to improve the safety and efficiency of Britain's railway network and resolve the present flawed structure. The plans are designed to retain the drive and entrepreneurial nature of private ownership, ensuring efficiency and value for the taxpayer by means of a public-private partnership. Stagecoach proposes introducing vertical integration for an initial period on its South West Trains network, the biggest commuter railway in the country.

Brian Souter, Chairman of Stagecoach Group plc, said: "We believe in the future of Britain's railways, as demonstrated by our orders for new trains which will bring a step-change in passenger perception in the next few years.

"But these efforts will fail if we do not address the maintenance and renewal problems arising from decades of under-funding and weak management of the track.

"We believe this is a railwayman's solution to the problems of our railways."

Stagecoach believes that the administration of Railtrack has presented the rail industry with a unique opportunity to address the fundamental problems, which have produced the present crisis.

The Government has made it clear that vertical integration is a potential solution for the railways. In response, Stagecoach is today publishing A platform for change - The Potential for Vertical Integration on Britain's Railways", which outlines how vertical integration would work on South West Trains.

Stagecoach proposes an initial five-year pilot scheme to allow asset condition and future maintenance requirements to be assessed and work undertaken to reach an agreed asset condition. During that period, SWT would be responsible for maintenance and renewals of the infrastructure and all network operations, including signalling.

The company believes this approach will result in:

o a common strategic focus and long-term vision for infrastructure and operations
o network control consolidated as one function
o effective management of operations and infrastructure
o elimination of perverse incentives and blame culture
o more efficient and targeted use of asset funding

The proposal aligns safety with operations and the pro-active management of maintenance and renewals. It merges the control functions of Railtrack and the train operator, who is best placed to look after the interests of passengers. Under the plan, there is a mechanism for the Government to pass railway risks back to the private sector in a controlled and limited manner.

Stagecoach Group believes that its proposals are inclusive and are designed to add to the debate. The group has circulated the paper to interested parties, including MPs, officials, regulators, other rail companies, engineering companies, and rail passenger and rail union representatives. The plans will be described in detail by Stagecoach Group rail director Graham Eccles at a rail conference in London today.

View the full discussion paper A platform for change.

In order to view this format you will need the Acrobat Reader.

Notes to editors:

Stagecoach Group is the present operator of South West Trains and is preferred bidder for a new 20-year franchise on SWT. Stagecoach is also 49 per cent shareholder in Virgin Trains, which runs the West Coast Main Line and Cross Country franchises.

In the past two years, Stagecoach Group has been involved in ordering more new rolling stock than any other train operator, including the replacement of the entire Virgin fleet, plus a £1 billion record order for 800 vehicles to replace old slam-door rolling stock on South West Trains.


Railhub Archive ::: 2001-12-03 STG-001





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