Friday, December 15, 2006

GNER loses franchise, but the chaos is on Central Trains...

GNER has given up its franchise to run trains on the East Coast mainline through Peterborough today after its parent company Sea Containers ran into major financial difficulties.

Today, rail passengers have been assured it will be business as usual on GNER trains - which is more than we can hope for on Central Trains this weekend and over Christmas - following a shortage of drivers.

After the GNER franchise was torn up today, the Department for Transport said it was inviting expressions of interest to take on the lucrative East Coast route from Kings Cross to Edinburgh and the north of Scotland.

A new deal is expected to be in place in 12 to 18 months with a new operator. Until then, GNER will operate the franchise on behalf of the Government under a no-fee management agreement deal.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport told the Peterborough Evening Telegraph

I don't think passengers will notice any changes. The tickets will be the same and train times will be the same.
But passengers on Central Trains will have been warned to expect major changes to services this Sunday and over the Christmas holidays.

It seems Central Trains staff are under no obligation to work Sundays under their contracts - and drivers who are in dispute with Central Trains have decided to withdraw their goodwill.

A very limited train service will operate on the Norwich-Peterborough-Grantham-Nottingham route, because of driver shortages. Central Trains has chartered buses to operate along the key routes.

Good job there's no shortage of bus drivers - or buses!

6 comments:

Brynley said...

What are the rail franchises for? Risk remains firmly with the state. Always will.

The widely admired GNER has a semi-bankrupt owner in Sea Containers, but the refranchise has been forced by GNER bidding over the odds in the last franchise auction, then blackmailing the treasury. Not their fault: that is the franchise system.

They are unable to meet their payments. Most likely outcome: GNER will win the refranchise, possibly under a new ownership structure.

After all you don't want Virgin to clean up completely.

Verdict: a dog's breakfast.

Implications for travellers: very few

Bruno (Skegness) said...

Don't suppose there is any chance of Phil blogging on:

Our corrupt pact with the Saudi dictatorship (hereditary).

Tony Blair having his collar felt by the constabulary.

Massacre of rural Post Offices.

No? Didn't think so.

Liz said...

Bruno - I will give my views on your questions.

1. The SFO enquiry relates to aircraft sold some 20 years ago (Michael Heseltine signed the contract). It came to light in 2004 that BAE had a slush fund and the SFO has been investigating the case since 2004 at a cost so far of £2m.

2. The conviction rate for the SFO in 2005/6 is a paltry 57%. Many of their cases are investigated for years and no charges are brought. As you are no doubt aware fraud is a complex matter and a bill is going through the House to remove the right to jury trial. In 2005 a Judge threw out a high profile case and the SFO were again criticised by the Court over the Wickes case. The AG was of the opinion that a prosecution was unlikely to succeed and it was not in the public interest to proceed - this is common regarding all civil and criminal prosecutions

3. It is felt by many that the French have been stirring up tensions between the UK Government and Saudi. They are desperate for the Saudi's to order their aircraft and have been offering enormous incentives. Chirac has been working hard!!

4. Currrent contract with the Saudis is worth £10bn for the 72 fighters. Over the next 20 years the deal is worth £40bn.

5. 9000 jobs are involved in the Eurofighter plane. The deal means these skilled workers will be fully employed until 2014. It has been estimated that 50,000 jobs throughout the defence industry are at risk if the Saudis cancel their order.

6. MPs from both major parties have been lobbying the PM saying that the continuing investigation was jeopardising the aerospace industry.

7. All countries engage in "slush" money to gain contracts. It is wrong and I for one am, not prepared to have the UK as the only ethical defence salesman.

8. If I had been PM I would have had to make the same difficult decision. Conservative MPs also agree with the decision. Yes there are those who legitimately have grave concerns but they have not had to make the decision. Would they hold a different position if their jobs were at stake.

Police Questioning.

1. The PM is also the Leader of the Labour Party and the SNP made the allegation against the PM as leader. It is not a dreadful event despite the media's thrill about it for any citizen to be interviewed as a witness. The PM has not been charged with anything and of course Michael Howard was also interviewed relating to events when he was leader. If I lived in London I would be asking serious question about the number of offiocers involved in this enquiry, the cost and how it has effected on other crime detection.

Post Offices

It is sad. However, the Post Office has lost all my business in recent years. I do everything online and very much appreciate being able to do this. I hate queueing and dislike not having a choice about where I can conduct my business. In addition, more people are having pensions etc paid into bank accounts. We cannot continue to heavily subsidise rural post offices. Those in rural areas who complain are often the ones who do not use the services. I am hopeful that the government will continue to assist with mobile units etc. The balalnce between taxpayers money and providing a social service is always difficult. However, we could start a petition to state that we are all willing to pay more tax to subsidise the Post Office.

Bruno (Skegness) said...

Liz,

The reason given by the Prime Minister for overruling the supposedly indendependent justice system was national security, not jobs at BAe and Rolls Royce.

Apparently, if we stop bribing the Saudi royal family, vital national interests will be undermined, although we are invited to guess what this means in practice.

Imagine how this looks on the Arab street. We talk about democracy, the rule of law. But it turns out that we mean no such thing. In fact we support the absolute hereditary dictators of Arabia and even override our own rule of law to that end.

No wonder we have no friends in the region.

On the question of Tony Blair's visit from the cops. There is the small matter of the undeclared 'loans' and them not appearing in the books. You may be right in suggesting that Tony Blair will escape charges and that someone lower down the feeding chain will take the rap. But you would have to be a very trusting individual, Liz, to believe that Lord Levy kept all this from our Tone.

Well, Liz, I'm glad to hear you post all your parcels on the internet, but for us mere donkeys we shall be needing Post Offices for a while yet, I think.

Geoffrey G Brooking said...

Central Trains continue to be a disgrace.

They should have lost their franchise a long time ago.

enigman said...

Morag found many of your comments "hilarious" but asks me to remind you that it's only 5 days until our Christmas Event and none of you have put your name down yet.

For the forgetful, let me remind you: It's an evening of wine and nuts from around the world (some as far afield as Ireland) set to the music of 'Mad' Jimmy Moonshine - a favourite of all of yours, I'm sure.