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Journey by Journey => Wales local journeys => Topic started by: grahame on August 13, 2017, 08:15:27 pm



Title: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: grahame on August 13, 2017, 08:15:27 pm
From Wales Online (http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/damning-leaked-letter-reveals-huge-13472362)

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A dispute between the governments in Cardiff Bay and Westminster risks throwing into jeopardy plans to bring in a new rail operator in Wales next year, we have learned.

WalesOnline has obtained a letter from UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling blaming civil servants in Cardiff for failing to address major issues needed to move forward with the new franchise, whose operator would be responsible for implementing key parts of the Welsh Government’s ambitious vision for rail services in Wales.

New rolling stock, electrification of the Swansea, Valleys and North Wales lines, a South and North Wales Metro and widespread structural improvements are all priorities for the next 10 years under the next Wales and Borders franchise.

The Welsh Government has already put back its plan to formally launch its search for a new operator by six weeks from this Friday, August 18, to September 26.

It has warned that further delays to the franchise, which does not include mainline high-speed services, could cost “tens of millions of pounds”.

Yet the major unresolved issues detailed in Mr Grayling’s letter, which he says make the “scale of the challenge” clear, raise questions over whether the new date is achievable.

Welsh Conservative transport spokesman Russell George described the letter as “damning” and warned that commuters “are going to pay the price”.

“The timeline for completing the next franchise seems some distance away,” he said.

Mr Grayling’s letter is a response to Welsh Economy and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Ken Skates who blamed the UK Government when he revealed the six-week delay in June.

In the letter (reproduced in full below), Mr Grayling refuses to go along with the Welsh Government’s request to allow him to issue the final documents needed before the the bidding operators can submit their proposals.

He writes: “I recognise your concerns regarding the timings of the tender process. But I hope you understand that I cannot cut corners on the level of information or assurance required... to do so would present significant risk to Network Rail, taxpayers and most importantly the passengers served by the Wales and Borders franchise.”

He refuses to accept Mr Skates’ claim that the holding of the General Election was to blame for the delay and says his officials warned Welsh civil servants on May 26 that the major issues still to be agreed meant their planned timeframe was unachieavable.

He cites seven areas that are still unresolved, including:

* A finalised written document setting out how the transfer of ownership of the Core Valleys Lines has not been received, and the Welsh Government and Network Rail are in dispute over the plans;
* Welsh and UK civil servants have not agreed a protocol over how the Welsh Government will exercise powers over English railways stations served by the Wales and Borders franchise;
* The Welsh Government is asking for an extra £1bn over the course of the franchise for which Mr Grayling says “I see no basis”;
* There remains a dispute over payments [the letter does not make clear the nature of the payments].

The letter also refers to other issues that remain to be agreed including a “funding and outputs principles document” and an agreement on how Welsh Ministers will undertake their “operator of last resort” responsibilities”.

The new operator is due to take over the franchise currently run by Arriva Trains Wales from October next year.

Four companies, including Arriva, have been shortlisted for the franchise and for the right to create and run a new south Wales Metro system.

Who are the bidders?

1. KeolisAmey is a joint venture between French transport giant Keolis and public service provider Amey.

2. Arriva Rail Wales is a bid from Arriva Trains Wales which is the current holder of the Wales and Borders franchise which runs until October 2018. It is owned by Deutsche Bahn.

3. Hong Kong-based MTR Corporation is one of the world’s leading transport companies with interests globally from Australia to Sweden.

4. Abellio Group operates bus and rail networks across Europe and is the international arm of the Dutch national rail operator.

The proposal includes elements that are proving controversial including the change of ownership of the Valleys Lines infrastructure.

The RMT union has claimed that the transfer of ownership is simply a £5bn privatisation, which it has described as appalling.

And Mr Grayling’s letter makes clear that Network Rail and the Welsh Government have not agreed who will be responsible if something goes wrong.

Mr Grayling concludes his letter by saying: “I will ensure my officials continue to do everything they can to support the process and enable the necessary agreements to be concluded as quickly as possible to ensure we deliver a satisfactory arrangement for passengers.”

When approached for comment a Welsh Government spokesman said: “We have received this letter and are considering its contents. We will respond in due course.”

The Welsh Conservative shadow Economy and Transport Secretary Russell George said: “This letter is damning and appears to suggest that the Welsh Government hasn’t fulfilled its role.

“Sadly, it’s the commuters which are going to pay the price and they will be extremely worried that.

“The UK Government has provided a long list of incomplete and unfulfilled tasks, and we must now look to the Welsh Government for its response.

“It is vital that a project of this importance and scale is done properly.

“Cutting corners at this point would be an unacceptable risk to Network Rail and the taxpayers who depend on the rail network in Wales.”


Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: Chris from Nailsea on August 16, 2017, 05:32:13 pm
Interesting that all four bidders are based 'overseas' - in the post Brexit world.  ::)



Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: welshman on October 30, 2017, 06:40:56 pm
ATW have today announced that they are withdrawing from the bidding for the 2018 franchise.


Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: Rhydgaled on October 30, 2017, 08:57:48 pm
ATW have today announced that they are withdrawing from the bidding for the 2018 franchise.
I'm shocked; if I recall correctly Arriva were reported as having part-funded the lease on the micro-fleet of 769s into the early 2020s, why invest and then walk away? It's also a surprise because SARPA's latest newsletter (http://www.sarpa.info/pdf%20archive/sarpa73.pdf) had Abellio and Arriva as the only two bidders still in the running, I guess they were wrong. From various comments earlier in this topic (and maybe other topics/fourms), I can think of three possible reasons for Arriva pulling out:

  • 1. They are expecting a direct award and therefore it isn't worth them sinking any more funds in bidding, since a new contest will follow the direct award
  • 2. The Welsh Government / Transport For Wales is asking for something that Arriva does not want to offer in their bid, because they consider it too high risk
  • 3. Similar to (2.), Arriva consider the partial vertical integration of the south Wales metro too high risk

Possible reasons for a direct award could be a further delay to devolution of the franchising powers or the issue of Pacer replacement and TSI-PRM compliance for the class 153 and mark 3 fleets.


Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: ellendune on October 30, 2017, 09:10:00 pm
An alternative explanation may come from Berlin. Perhaps DB have decided to pull out of UK franchises. 


Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: John R on October 30, 2017, 09:11:41 pm
Alternatively they wish to concentrate their efforts on one or more up and coming franchise bids that they feel they have a better chance of winning or for which the rewards are higher.

The efforts involved in a bid, and the costs involved are very substantial. And there will be a limited capacity to take on multiple bids concurrently.

All these are of course pure speculation, and we will probably never know.  And even if Arriva do make some comment in due course, it may not be the whole reason.


Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: stuving on October 30, 2017, 10:34:21 pm
This is ATW's own statement:

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Arriva Trains Wales Statement - Wales and Borders franchise

30 October 2017
Tom Joyner, Managing Director of Arriva Trains Wales said:

“We have been notified that Arriva Group have withdrawn from the bidding process for the next Wales and Borders franchise.

“Our key priority following this announcement is to continue to focus on the delivery of our services for the people and communities that depend on us for the remainder of the current franchise, including a £1m Arriva Trains Wales investment in additional trains which will be introduced in 2018.

“We will continue to work closely with our government and industry partners to support them with the delivery of their priorities.”

Note: Tom Joyner himself has only been with Arriva since 2nd October - four weeks!


Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: Timmer on October 31, 2017, 08:07:21 am
Think it sums up the Franchise process, very expensive and in some cases not worth bidding for anymore.


Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: SandTEngineer on November 27, 2017, 02:46:53 pm
The franchising transfer agreement has been published today (27/11/2017):
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/662188/wales-and-borders-agency-agreement-2.pdf


Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: Chris from Nailsea on December 03, 2017, 02:25:41 am
An alternative explanation may come from Berlin...

Cue Neville Chamberlain ...  ::)



Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: grahame on December 03, 2017, 07:20:44 am
Not sure I have seen the comment elsewhere (but then I'm not a great follower of Welsh affairs) - but it was suggested to me that the Welsh franchise bids were for a contract to include responsibility (operational and financial) for maintaining the line, including such elements as repairs to infrastructure that failed.

Making a comparison, had there been a similar contract in place, Great Western would have been responsible for repairing the saw wall at Dawlish when it failed.


Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: TaplowGreen on December 03, 2017, 08:55:23 am
Not sure I have seen the comment elsewhere (but then I'm not a great follower of Welsh affairs) - but it was suggested to me that the Welsh franchise bids were for a contract to include responsibility (operational and financial) for maintaining the line, including such elements as repairs to infrastructure that failed.

Making a comparison, had there been a similar contract in place, Great Western would have been responsible for repairing the saw wall at Dawlish when it failed.

..............can you imagine GWR on that one? "More sea walls than usual are currently needing repairs"  :D


Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: grahame on December 24, 2017, 10:46:47 am
Bids were due in by last Thursday ... though according to Wales Online (http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/blueprint-wales-rail-revolution-must-14061610) we don't actually know what was being bid for.

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The Welsh Government has dismayed rail users by insisting that its instructions to bidders for the next Wales and Borders franchise must remain secret, even after Thursday's deadline for final bids has passed.

Three companies are vying for the 15-year contract , estimated to be worth between £3.5bn and £5bn. In September they were formally invited to submit their bids by 21 December.

[snip]

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The previous public consultations were criticised for focusing on generic issues, such as the legroom and luggage space on trains, rather than specific service proposals for the franchise’s routes and stations.

Mr Allcock [chair of the Wrexham-Bidston Rail Users’ Association] said the only details which had emerged had come from the UK Government, which released details of minimum and maximum requirements for the franchise’s services in England.

[snip]

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The companies bidding for the contract are Abellio, KeolisAmey and MTR Corporation.




Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: chuffed on December 24, 2017, 12:16:24 pm
Bids were due in by last Thursday ... though according to Wales Online (http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/blueprint-wales-rail-revolution-must-14061610) we don't actually know what was being bid for.

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The Welsh Government has dismayed rail users by insisting that its instructions to bidders for the next Wales and Borders franchise must remain secret, even after Thursday's deadline for final bids has passed.



[snip]

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The companies bidding for the contract are Abellio, KeolisAmey and MTR Corporation.



Perhaps they were published in Welsh and somebody forgot to provide an English translation.


Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: welshman on December 24, 2017, 12:46:36 pm
Not in Welsh either.  French, Dutch, German, and Cantonese would probably have been of more use.

The issues for bidders are electrification, infrastructure responsibility, Pacer replacements, shortage of rolling stock, and the so-called South Wales Metro scheme meant to integrate heavy and light rail and buses.

My money is on MTR.


Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: grahame on February 23, 2018, 06:25:10 pm
ATW have today announced that they are withdrawing from the bidding for the 2018 franchise.

And now from The Railway Gazette (http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/passenger/single-view/view/abellio-pulls-out-of-wales-borders-bidding.html)

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Abellio pulls out of Wales & Borders bidding


Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: rogerw on February 23, 2018, 06:42:31 pm
Another fall out from the Carillion failure


Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: Timmer on February 23, 2018, 06:57:26 pm
Is there anybody left?


Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: welshman on February 23, 2018, 08:34:32 pm
Only the French and the Chinese.


Title: Re: Letting of the next franchise for trains in Wales
Post by: SandTEngineer on March 01, 2018, 10:27:49 am
Seems like agreement on train service devolution has been reached at last: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/welsh-rail-services-set-to-be-devolved-following-historic-agreement

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The draft Welsh Ministers (Transfer of Functions) (Railways) Order 2018 has been laid in Parliament.

Published 28 February 2018
From: Department for Transport and Jo Johnson MP

The transfer of rail services to the Welsh government has taken a significant step forward with the laying of a draft order in Parliament.

The draft order was laid before Parliament today (28 February 2018) and will, subject to approval from MPs, Lords and the Privy Council, devolve the procurement and management of Wales and Borders franchise train services within Wales. This follows detailed discussions between the Department for Transport and the Welsh Government on how powers will be devolved to Welsh ministers.

The agreement also takes into account the fact that many of the franchise services operate on both sides of the border between England and Wales and includes safeguards to protect all passengers using these routes.

Rail Minister Jo Johnson said:
This is a positive and significant step in the franchise devolution process and is an example of the effective cooperation between the UK and Welsh governments.

The devolution of these powers delivers on recommendations made by the Commission on Devolution in Wales and demonstrates the commitment we made as a government in the 2015 St David’s Day Agreement.

Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Transport Ken Skates said:
I welcome this recognition of the extensive nature of the cross-border services - and services wholly within England - provided by the Wales and Borders franchise and the need for appropriate accountability for rail operations on each side of the border.

It will be important for devolution of funding for Network Rail to be delivered in the future and I will continue dialogue with the Department for Transport to that end.

As well as continuing with present franchise funding arrangements, the UK government will also provide an extra £125 million towards upgrading the Valley Lines, part of the Welsh Government’s metro project in South Wales.

The draft Welsh Ministers (Transfer of Functions) (Railways) Order 2018 was laid before Parliament following formal approval by Welsh ministers. It will go before the Commons and Lords for scrutiny.