Green light for West Coast franchise
NEW assurances by FirstGroup and Trenitalia over competition concerns about the West Coast Partnership franchise have been accepted by the Competition and Markets Authority. The partners have undertaken to cap fares and to maintain cheap Advance fares. The new franchise is due to begin on 8 December, ending an era of control by Virgin and Stagecoach which began in 1997.
Great Western line reopens in Somerset after six day closure
WORK to renew Cogload Junction on the Great Western Main Line near Taunton was completed in the early hours of Friday morning, and the Great Western Main Line was reopened to traffic between Tiverton Parkway and Castle Cary or Weston-super-Mare after a six-day closure. Network Rail also completed upgrades to Whiteball Tunnel, which has been reinforced with concrete.
Union leader criticises ‘vampire’ train operators
TRAIN operators have been criticised by the TSSA union, whose general secretary Manuel Cortes has described them as ‘vampires’. His comments were in response to new Office of Rail and Road figures showing that taxpayers had to directly subsidise the passenger railway by £417 million last year. This figure does not take into account the hidden subsidies for operators represented by artificially low track access charges, and the total support paid to Network Rail was £3.859 billion. Mr Cortes said: ‘These figures confirm what we’ve known all along – for the train operating companies it’s heads we win, tails you lose. It can’t be right that taxpayers are forced to subsidise these failing firms. They’re like vampires, bleeding our railways dry.’
Eurostar plans to launch Amsterdam-London services in 2020
EUROSTAR says it expects to launch through services from Amsterdam to London next year, but it has not confirmed reports which have speculated that trains could be running as early as December. Trains have been running in the reverse direction since April 2018, but through trains from the Netherlands to Britain depend on a treaty which is now about to be signed. Security and passport control areas for London-bound passengers have already been completed at Amsterdam Centraal and Rotterdam Centraal.