07 August 2008

News #3

This latest selection of industry headlines was going to come from RAIL, though due to nothing short of incompetence on their publisher's behalf, the LEYTR subscription to the magazine was allowed to elapse (the shame of it all)!!!! Step in the very best (and most costly) industry magazine, Transit, which ticks all the LEYTR boxes as its subject matter is identical to ours.

ORR aims to make open access competition easier. The Office of Rail Regulation's board has decided it does not want to repeat Grand Central's 7 year battle to commence open access rail services and so has vowed to cut the red tape - although interestingly not until 2009/10 when the scrum for additional paths on the ECML will have been settled.

Transport groups dismiss PTEG claims of fuel price profiteering. The Passenger Transport Executive Group has claimed that bus and coach operators have used the excuse of increases in fuel to unnecessarily increase the cost of their fares, claiming that Arriva, First, Stagecoach and Go Ahead are paying no more today than they were a few months ago as their fuel prices were forward purchased up to a year in advance.

High speed rail could decimate air. Consultants York Aviation have surveyed aviation business travellers, 69% of whom believe that improved rail services could substitute business travel by air so long as the rail journey got them to their destination within 3 hours. The study also concluded that default mode of travel to Paris and Brussels is the Eurostar and that travellers see improved rail links to/from London's airports as more important than improvements to roads.

Cardiff Bus gives away free day tickets to every household. Cardiff Bus is distributing a guide to its bus services and a free day rover ticket to every resident in the Welsh capital over the summer months, hoping to attract new customers, keen to make savings on the cost to run a car.

Judge rules that Oyster 'hack' can be published by Dutch university. A team of students from a Netherlands university have been given permission on how to copy an Oyster card - the electronic ticketing system used throughout London. The ruling overturned one in June prohibiting details - into the weakness of the Mifare Classic chip (at the heart of every Oyster card) - being published.

Pendolino lengthening bidder chosen. The DfT has selected Virgin Rail Projects as its chosen bidder for the contract provider to lengthen Pendolino trains on the WCML. The contract is to lengthen 31 trains and to provide 4 new trains, all from design stage to implementation before the franchise ends in 2012.

Maintenance workers hold second weekend of strike action. 12,000 RMT members employed by Network Rail staged a second weekend strike on 26/27 June despite having undergone 10 meetings since the first strike in June. RMT secretary general Bob Crow claimed NR's directors had overruled their own negotiating team.

Network Rail members narrowly vote to review corporate governance. NR's controversial corporate governance structure is being reviewed following a 55% majority vote to do so. The structure has been criticised countless times for preventing NR's members able to hold the directors fully accountable. The review should be finished by Christmas.

Retailers call for government clarification on Crossrail funds. The British Retail Consortium has called on the government to clarify business' contribution of £16 billion towards the scheme as currently no clear guidance as to how this area of contribution will be made up.

National Express re-submits its plan for c2c contract extension. The main pledge NX will make, should it be successful in being awarded the extension (ending in 2013) is to increase its peak hour trains to 12 carriages, sourced from cascading Class 321s from London Midland.

Seminar to consider Tory policies for rail. With a general election possible in June 2010, more ears are now listening to emerging Tory transport policy than in any time for decades. Transit magazine is sponsoring an event in October to consider the Conservatives' views in rail priority.

Welsh operators face big bills from council timetable changes. Each time a bus operator alters its bus/coach timetable mid-term the Welsh Assembly could charge them a considerable amount, with the charge primarily going towards the cost and time of council workers updating bus stop timetable cases.

Go South Coast re-brands operators in coach sales push. Bells, Tourist, Kingston and Levers, Damory and Wilts & Dorset have seen their operations (or specific coach operations in W&D' case) re-branded with a two-tone blue livery applied but each will retain its local trading name.

Stagecoach consolidates in Manchester with talks to buy Bullock's operations. Although unconfirmed by Stagecoach (as was the case when speculation mounted a couple of months ago when we reported on them looking to buy Highland Country/Rapsons) Stagecoach is almost certainly in negotiations to purchase the 50 vehicle Bullock's of Cheadle bus operation, whose main route is the busy Wilmslow Road corridor in Manchester.

West Coast Motor and Citylink reach agreement on Argyll routes. Campbeltown-based West Coast Motors had started competing services earlier in the year after commercial agreement broke down between themselves and Citylink. WCM's service operated 10 mins before Citylink's and offered cheaper fares, attracting much loyalty from local commuters, though now, following an agreement, WCM will resume operations as a Citylink contractor.

Lothian upgrades fleet with Optare and Wright. A 60-vehicle order has been placed with Wrightbus for 50 Eclipse Gemini double deckers and 10 Eclipse single deckers all on Volvo chassis, for delivery after October this year; the company has recently placed into service Scotland's first examples of the Optare Solo SR.

Transit, whose style and layout attempts to emulate a broadsheet, is available by subscription only at £78 p/a (£140 for 2 years or £199 for 3 years) and is published fortnightly. Whilst being primarily aimed at those holding at least a supervisory capacity in the transport sector, it's clear, concise writing style covering all modes of transport - plus detailed analysis, often using information provided by the TAS Partnership - makes it the LEYTR favourite by far. Additional membership discount is also available for those belonging to affiliated societies, such as the CILT.