All Change!10th July 2007
The Department for Transport has been announcing a flurry of franchise decisions over the last few weeks and it’s all change. The major news, and it has just broken today, is that the CrossCountry franchise has been given to Arriva. While it’s a pity to see Virgin losing it, having Arriva instead isn’t the end of the world either; I have seen them make a good job of running rail franchises both in Wales and in the north east of England. That said, I do wonder whether at seat catering will be appreciated or reviled; on Irish trains, it’s an irritation and holds you up when going to the buffet car. Having some HST’s returning will not be a bad thing and it’ll be interesting how a mixed train fleet will perform. After all, Virgin went for uniformity with their Voyagers and will hold onto some of them when West Coast Mainline CrossCountry services pass to Virgin West Coast.
Midland Mainline and Central Trains are also to meet their demise with the commencing of the new East Midlands and West Midlands franchises. The former has gone to Stagecoach with Govia undertaking the latter under the London Midland moniker. I must admit that these changes don’t affect me in the way that CrossCountry does, though both will be running some services into Cheshire.
There is one other franchise outstanding in this round and that is the East Coast Mainline one, on tender following LNER‘s financial difficulties. Let’s hope that there isn’t a change for the worse like what happened after First Great Western took on their larger franchise.