This is a fantastic deal for passengers and for staff on this vital route. It gives passengers more seats, more services and new trains.
We are putting passengers at the heart of the service. I believe Stagecoach and Virgin will not only deliver for customers but also for the British taxpayer.
This government knows the importance of our railways. That is why they are a vital part of our long term economic plan, with over £38 billion being spent on the network over the next five years.
Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive of Stagecoach Group, said:
A passion for customers, employees and the community is at the heart of our plans for the franchise. We want to build on the quality and pride of the people who will be joining our team.
We have some fantastic ideas to deliver a more personal travel experience for customers. Investing in the committed people who will make that happen is a big part of our plans, giving opportunities for them to develop and grow into more senior roles. At the same time, we have developed major programmes to help young people, communities and small businesses along what is one of Britain’s major rail routes.
Over the 8-year franchise, Inter City Railways will invest £140 million to bring extra benefits for passengers, including:
complete refurbishment of the existing train fleet
better wi-fi connections and onboard catering on the new Intercity Express train fleet
improved ticket offices and 170 new ticket vending machines
over 500 new car parking spaces
411 additional cycle spaces and new secure cycle facilities
a customer and community improvement fund
a training fund for new apprenticeships, internships and staff development.
The new services announced today have only been made possible thanks to the government’s significant investment in the railways. Over the next 8 years Inter City Railways will pay the government around £3.3 billion to operate the franchise.
The company will shortly begin talks with Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation to agree its plans to run new direct services from London to Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Huddersfield.
It will also seek approval to run more trains to Edinburgh, Leeds, Lincoln, Shipley, Stirling, Harrogate and Bradford.
From 2018, Inter City Railways will take delivery of the new Intercity Express trains, to be assembled at Hitachi’s factory in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. By 2020 all of the 65 modern high-speed electric trains will be in service and will replace 39 existing trains.
In addition to more seats, passengers will benefit from cleaner, more reliable trains and faster journeys. The new franchise will provide regular journey times of 2 hours to Leeds and 4 hours to Edinburgh.
Inter City Railways has also given a commitment to reduce all long-distance standard anytime fares by 10%. This could save passengers travelling from Edinburgh to London around £15 on those journeys.
The operator will also develop its own website, smartphone and tablet apps that will make door-to-door travel easier for customers, including planning journeys and buying tickets.
Inter City Railways is a joint venture comprising Stagecoach Transport Holdings Ltd and Virgin Holdings Ltd. It will take over the franchise from Sunday 1 March 2015.
Following the announcement, and in accordance with usual procurement practice, there will be a standstill period of 10 days before the department will be in a position to enter into, and complete, the formal contractual documentation and make the award to Inter City Railways.