- the new franchise will continue to improve customer satisfaction, improve services and build on recent investment
- consultation seeks views on all aspects of the new franchise to ensure that it delivers the best possible journeys for passengers, communities, and businesses
- the new franchise is due to start in April 2018 when the current InterCity West Coast contract comes to an end
Rail passengers are being asked for their views on how the InterCity West Coast (ICWC) line can deliver better rail services in a government consultation launched today (10 May 2016).
Passengers, businesses and local councils can have their say on the planned improvements for the new franchise which runs between London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Holyhead ahead of the start of the competition for a new operator later this year.
The franchise competition will invite bids from operators hoping to run the next ICWC franchise, with the consultation helping to shape the invitation to tender issued later in 2016. The winning train operating company will be announced in November 2017, in time for the franchise to begin in April 2018.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:
We are investing a record 38 billion in our railways to deliver better journeys for passengers, and it is essential that passengers needs are at the heart of franchises in order to build on this investment.
The ICWC line covers a vitally important part of our rail network, linking major cities in England, Scotland, and Wales. I want to see improvements to customer satisfaction, investment and better journeys for passengers during the next franchise.
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said:
Improving our rail network is a key element of our ambitious plans for economic growth across the country. Faster connections between north Wales and the cities of northern England will ensure we are linked into the Northern Powerhouse. helping to attract investment and create jobs.
This consultation will give passengers and communities across Wales the chance to have their say about the rail franchise to help us ensure the route meets their needs.
It is crucial we get this right to ensure Wales has a rail service fit for the 21st century so I urge people to get involved and share their views.
The consultation sets out the departments vision for the new franchise including plans to enable economic growth, support investment and build on high levels of customer satisfaction.
It asks for passengers views on a range of other improvements, including how the next operator can improve customer satisfaction and experience, including providing helpful information at times of disruptionprovide train services that better meet the needs of passengers and communities they servemake the railway more accessible for all, including innovative ways to improve ticketing, fares and paying for journeys.
Over 34 million journeys were made on ICWC franchise services from the start of April 2014 to the end of March 2015 with 4.3 billion passenger miles travelled. The current franchise employs approximately 3,000 staff members and runs around 300 services per day. The next operator will also have an important role to play in the effective delivery of High Speed Two (HS2), with construction beginning in 2017.
The competition stages will run through 2016 and into 2017, with the franchise competition winner announced in November 2017.
The 12-week consultation closes on 2 August 2016.