Stagecoach Group plc and the Virgin Group of Companies confirmed
on 15 January 2007 they have jointly submitted an expression of interest
for the InterCity East Coast rail franchise.
Both groups are bidding for the franchise under a 50:50 joint venture
company, inter city railways ltd.
The InterCity East Coast franchise, currently operated by GNER on
behalf of the Department for Transport under a temporary management
agreement, is expected to be re-let in the next 12 to 18 months.
Brian Souter, Stagecoach Group Chief Executive, said: "We are
delighted that we are again partnering with Virgin to develop an innovative
and deliverable bid for the InterCity East Coast rail franchise, which
is one of the UKs flagship routes.We have extensive experience
of operating and investing in high-quality rail services, which have
attracted millions more people to the UK rail network through high
levels of punctuality and rising customer satisfaction. We are both
committed to putting passengers at the heart of our bid for the franchise.
Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder, added: Stagecoach
and Virgin have proved that Britains railways can be transformed
and that it is possible to provide good quality service, passenger
growth and operate highly efficient franchises.Together, we
have a breadth of skill in both high-speed operations and dealing
with major infrastructure issues that is unsurpassed in the UK. We
look forward to applying this to create a winning bid, which will
be attractive to customers and taxpayers alike.
Performance on Stagecoach and Virgins existing rail franchises
is amongst the best in the UK, with rising levels of customer satisfaction.
The most recent National Rail Trends report from the Office of Rail
Regulation shows that Virgin West Coast is the second best of all
franchised long-distance operators for punctuality, with a moving
annual average of 86.3% PPM compared to 84.4% for GNER.
The latest National Passenger Survey by Passenger Focus shows overall
customer satisfaction at 90% on Virgin West Coast the best
of all high-speed long-distance operators.
The DfT is expected to announce a list of short-listed bidders for
the InterCity East Coast franchise next month.