GNER franchise extended to 2005
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GNER franchise extended to 2005
type Press release
London, England, January 16, 2002 - GNER Holdings Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sea Containers Ltd., announced today that its Great North Eastern Railway (GNER) franchise has been extended by two years to April 2005.
GNER had earlier tendered for a new 20-year franchise, but it depended on an upgrade to the East Coast Main Line (ECML) between London and Scotland. In the event GNERs 20-year proposal was not taken forward by the Secretary of State for Transport because of horrendous cost overruns on the West Coast Main Line modernisation, the placing of Railtrack into administration and lack of proper definition of the ECML upgrade, which vindicated the UKs Governments decision to go for the shorter franchise at this time.
GNERs view is that the ECML infrastructure should become part of the franchise, so the company can set priorities and fund investment in partnership with Government, as this will lead to a much quicker upgrade at much lower cost. GNER is seeking the support of other ECML users and will be presenting its case to the Secretary of State before long.
In the three year period between now and April 2005, GNER has committed to ensure that £83 million is invested, of which more than £50 million will be spent by rolling stock owners on improvements to the train sets. All 302 coaches in the existing electric train fleet will be refurbished and improved, all locomotives will be overhauled and upgraded to improve fleet reliability, and the Train Protection and Warning System will be installed at the same time. Six new rescue locomotives will be purchased for lease to GNER to replace the existing antiquated and unreliable units.
All nine diesel trains will be lengthened by one coach to provide additional train capacities. Sea Containers has already purchased 10 sleeper cars of the same body type for possible conversion.
An extra train set will be leased from Eurostar (UK) Ltd and, together with the other two such sets, will be operated on the London- Leeds route from summer 2002. Following completion of the Leeds First project by Railtrack, GNERs London-Leeds service will be almost half-hourly throughout the day. Eleven additional daily services will be provided.
Improvements to coaches will include better seating, more space, improved toilets, enlarged buffet area, more luggage storage, better public address systems, and plug-in sockets for laptops.
Further investments will also bring:
- A major station modernisation programme, including new passenger lounges and customer-friendly travel centres (at Peterborough, Doncaster and York), refurbished toilets and improved PA systems
- Secure Stations status at all 12 GNER-managed stations (nine accredited at present)
- Full access for people with disabilities
- 450 extra car parking spaces and 350 secure new bicycle stands
- 25 additional self-service fastticket machines
Improved information to passengers:
- New staffed Customer Information Points at stations, offering real-time train running information
- New information systems in station lounges, car parks, bars and cafeterias
- Better signage within stations and on approach roads
- A new management disruption and communication centre at Kings Cross station to ensure that extra and more accurate information is given more quickly, if services are delayed
Better compensation for passengers: (from April 2003)
- A 50 per cent single leg refund for delays of 45 minutes or more
- A 100 per cent single leg refund if trains are over 90 minutes late
- For the first time, season ticket holders will also be able to claim for each journey delayed, in addition to existing compensation provision
Mr James B. Sherwood, Chairman of GNER Holdings and President of Sea Containers, said that he sees all these enhancements as a further step towards improvement of GNERs services. He will be pressing for authority to order new trains which are needed to accommodate expected passenger volumes, recognising that new rolling stock cannot be delivered until after April 2005. He indicated that the highest priority should be given to increasing pathways for GNER and other passenger trains in peak periods.
Mr Christopher W.M. Garnett, Chief Executive of GNER, said that the unfolding of events, starting with the Hatfield accident had been beyond all reasonable expectation, but at least the problems of Railtrack, the infrastructure provider, were now out in the open where they can be addressed. He thanked passengers for their patience in this period and commended GNERs staff for continuing to provide the best rail service in the UK, despite these adversities.
Note to Editors:
GNERs track record, since starting its original franchise in 1996, includes:
- Over £40m invested in five years more than double its original franchise commitment over seven years
- 25% extra services in first four years
- 30% rise in passenger numbers in first four years
- 500 extra on-train staff
- Quicker and easier ticket purchase, via telesales, the GNER website, new fastticket machines and transformed travel centres
- An awardwinning reputation for customer service and catering
- Consistently the highest passenger satisfaction scores of any long-distance train operator in the UK (85% in SRAs National Passenger Survey, December 2001).
Railhub Archive ::: 2002-01-16 GNE-001