Whilst it may seem rather early for bidders to be announced for the franchise to run HS2 as it’s not meant to open until 2026, and if it goes ahead 2028/9 would be more likely, the list is now out.
The reason franchise bids are coming in so early is that Government have decided to have one operator for both the West Coast Mainline and HS2. This is exactly what happened with HS1 and Southeastern, a move that led to a reduction and slowing of ‘classic’ rail services in Kent to try and force people onto the more expensive HS1.
Yesterday, it was announced that French state owner operator SNCF, who own 70% of Keolis which in turn owns 33% of Govia who run everyones favourite franchise; Southern Rail, will be joining the bidding process along with Italian state operator Trenitalia.
SNCF are to come in with a joint bid with Virgin & Stagecoach on a 30/20/50 split, whilst Trenitalia will team up on their bid with First Group. This should be of no surprise to anyone really, as foreign state owner operators are involved in around three quarters of the current UK rail franchises, but The London Evening Standard said there was ‘Fury’ at the news – possibly because of all the work George Osborne & family had put so much work into trying to get Chinese & Japanese bids, whilst RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said;
“This is yet another land grab on Britain’s railways by the French state with SNCF and Richard Branson both realising that this new franchise will be a one way ticket to the bank for whoever comes out on top in this latest UK rail lottery.”
“The integrated HS2/West Coast operation has been bought and paid for by the British people and should be run by the British state in the public interest and not by some consortium of speculators looking to make a killing at the taxpayers expense.”
Maybe the TSSA & ASLEF rail unions who heavily support HS2 and have effectively hamstrung Jeremy Corbyn from expressing dissent about HS2 should note this. After all, this was always on the cards, and the High Speed Rail Industry Leaders Group, which consists almost exclusively of foreign firms have been saying that HS2 should be considered as a “potentially lucrative global export”
— HSR Industry Leaders (@RailLeaders) April 26, 2017
The state owned rail operators currently involved in running UK franchises are:
Abellio (part of Nederlandse Spoorwegen, the Dutch national operator): Greater Anglia, Scotrail and Merseyrail.
Arriva (Deutsche Bahn, German state operator): Chiltern, Grand Central, Cross Country, Northern, London Overground, Arriva Trains Wales, Tyne and Wear Metro.
Keolis (SNCF, French state operator): Nottingham Express Transit, Docklands Light Railway, Southeastern, London Midland and Govia Thameslink Railway.
Trenitalia (Italian state operator): C2C.
MTR (Hong Kong, majority-owned by government): Crossrail and South Western (from August).