Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : Two-Year GNER Extension Agreed – £100m Private Sector Investment Committed [January 2002]

The press release issued by the Strategic Rail Authority on 16 January 2002.

The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) today announced that it had concluded negotiations with GNER Holdings Ltd and its subsidiary Great North Eastern Railways Ltd for a two-year extension of its existing Inter City East Coast franchise, which links London to key cities in Scotland and the North East via the East Midlands and Yorkshire.

Some £100m of investment is being committed by GNER and its partners, delivering a number of significant ‘quick wins’ for passengers. Improvements include a planned 11 additional services between London and Leeds; £10m for station and passenger information improvements; better facilities for disabled passengers; improved performance, compensation & customer satisfaction regimes; and a minimum £16m contribution from GNER to infrastructure improvements. More than £50m is being committed by GNER to rolling stock, including the leasing of two additional train sets and six new recovery locomotives; refurbishment of all passenger carriages and the lengthening of the diesel High Speed Trains, expected to provide an additional 70 seats per train by the end of 2003. In addition, the investment package includes £20m to improve the reliability of the electric locomotives.

Today’s agreement extends the existing seven-year franchise by two years to April 2005, and follows the Transport Secretary’s invitation to the SRA in July 2001 to negotiate an extension.

Richard Bowker, Chairman of the SRA, said: “This deal requires no extra subsidy and is being funded entirely within the private sector. The improvements agreed today for delivery over the next three years will make a real difference to passengers along the whole of GNER’s route – with more comfortable, more reliable, more frequent and more spacious trains.

“This is the second piece of good news for passengers on this route, following the publication of our Strategic Plan on Monday, which confirmed that the SRA is prioritising the upgrade of the Line to provide a major increase in its capacity.”

GNER Commitments

Additional Leeds services from June 2002
GNER propose to divert and supplement its White Rose service to provide eleven extra one-way trains on the Leeds to London route each day. This has been a longstanding ambition for GNER and has been made possible by the ‘Leeds First’ engineering work and additional funding from the SRA.

£10m investment in station improvements by end 2003
Includes upgraded passenger lounges at York, Doncaster & Peterborough; refurbished subways at Doncaster, York & Darlington; additional customer information systems & ticket office windows, accessibility improvements, refurbished toilets, 450 additional car parking spaces and improved cycle storage facilities. All GNER stations will be brought up to DTLR ‘Secure Station’ standard, and most station car parks to AA ‘Gold Standard’ status.

Lengthening & improvements to all High Speed Trains (HSTs) by end 2003
Includes a number of alterations to locomotives to improve reliability and increase luggage and cycle space; some refurbishment of carriage interiors including seats, catering facilities and toilets; and improved facilities for the disabled. These trains are principally used on non-electrified routes to, Bradford, Harrogate, Hull, Aberdeen and Inverness.

Refurbishment of all Intercity 225 carriages by April 2005
Includes complete renewal of carriage interiors; improvement of ride comfort; rebuilding of all toilets; modernisation of restaurant cars; and improved facilities for the disabled.

Additional trains and recovery locomotives
GNER will lease two additional train sets – one from May 2002 and another in May 2003 – to maintain services during refurbishment and to replace the train lost at Great Heck. It will also replace its five recovery locomotives with six new or rebuilt locomotives, to ensure more rapid recovery of failed trains and the swift restoration of subsequent services.

Improved performance, compensation & customer satisfaction regimes
GNER is the first long distance high speed operator to commit to these new SRA standards. An improved incentive regime will require at least 81% of trains on time from April 2003, rising to 83% from April 2004. From April 2003 the company will introduce passenger refunds of 50% for lateness of 45-89 minutes, and full refunds for 90 minutes upwards. The SRA’s National Passenger Survey will be built into the contract from April 2003, which could require up to an additional £3.5m to be spent on customer satisfaction improvements.

East Coast Main Line Infrastructure
As part of today’s agreement, GNER will contribute £16m to be spent on East Coast Main Line (ECML) infrastructure works to improve performance and/or capacity. The detail of these works will be agreed in due course. The deal also includes a ‘benefit share’ of any excess profits from the franchise, which the SRA has committed to invest in ECML infrastructure improvements.

Driver Recruitment
The agreement commits GNER to a programme of driver recruitment to help overcome the current driver shortage within the rail industry.