NEWS RELEASE -
28th February 2015
MEETINGS WITH NORTHERN LINE FRANCHISE BIDDERS
Chief Executive Brian Dunsby and a group of members who depend on rail
services have held a series of meetings with the short-listed bidders for
the Northern Rail franchise and the TransPennine Express Franchise - and
with the successful bidders for the East Coast main-line franchise.
The East Coast
mainline services, including the current once-a-day each way direct
London-Harrogate service, will be taken over by a partnership of Virgin and
Stagecoach with effect from 1st March 2015. Stagecoach own 90% and Virgin
10% of the new company, but it will be branded as Virgin Trains East Coast.
will use the existing East Coast rolling stock on the current timetable -
namely southbound on weekdays at 07.34, due into Kings Cross at 10.35 and
northbound at 17.33 due into Harrogate at 20.25 - with a
complimentary evening meal served in First Class!
Brian met Wayne
Kyte, Service Development Manager at Stagecoach's sister company East
Midlands Trains and Edward O'Loughlin, Technical Director, Rail Strategy &
Planning at WSP UK, who are the Consultants working on the implementation of
the new franchise. They assured the Chamber that they would be focussing on
improved reliability of the trains, better customer service and closer
cooperation with stakeholder groups along the route. They are also
investing in improved wi-fi on the trains and a series of station
ahead, the Stagecoach representatives confirmed that Harrogate would be
served by the new InterCity Express Programme (IEP) bi-modal electric-diesel
trains from May 2019, when a two-hourly direct service to and from London
was being scheduled - seven days a week. Brian said this was just what the
Chamber had campaigned for over the past 5 years as these trains would
really stimulate Harrogate businesses in both directions - for both inbound
business and leisure visitors and for outbound business and leisure
travellers. The first prototype of the IEP Trains has recently been
shipped from Japan and is due to arrive in the UK in March this year for
testing. A totally new factory is now under construction at Newton Aycliffe
near Darlington to build the large number of IEP trains needed for both East
Coast and Great Western line services from 2018.
Simon Kent and
Robert Penfold from HIC met the Virgin-Stagecoach team with Brian and they
stressed the importance of more direct trains to Harrogate for the many
conference and exhibition delegates attending both trade and consumer events
at HIC and at the Yorkshire Showground and in a number of larger hotels in
The Chamber also
arranged meetings for the Harrogate Line Supporters Group with the three
bidders for the Northern Franchise, Abellio, Arriva, and Govia. In each
case they stressed the need for more frequent services, starting earlier in
the morning and continuing half-hourly during the evening and at weekends -
with better quality rolling stock to replace the obsolete 140 series Pacers,
sometime referred to as Cattle Trucks on the Hogwarts Express!
Finally the Group
met the First Group bidding for a renewal of their TransPennine Express
franchise when the concept of a new direct service between Harrogate and
Manchester Airport was put forward for their consideration.
information on Harrogate Trains both local and long distance look at
Brian L Dunsby
HARROGATE LINE SUPPORTERS GROUP.
P O Box 888, Dept HT13, HARROGATE HG2 8UH
Tel: 01423 879208 Fax: 01423 870025
Mobile: 07836 537512
of Virgin Trains and Stagecoach as the winner of the franchise to run the
East Coast mainline rail service has been welcomed by Harrogate Chamber of
Trade and Commerce.
which has campaigned actively to get a two-hourly service to the capital,
said the winning bid will bring significant benefits to the North Yorkshire
for full statement