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CrossCountry extension a “lost opportunity”

CrossCountry 220021 at Exeter St Davids on October 3 2014. RICHARD CLINNICK.

The transport lead of the West Midlands Combined Authority says the recent Direct Award to Arriva for the CrossCountry franchise (RAIL 811) is a “lost opportunity” to boost passenger capacity.

Roger Lawrence said: “The promised ‘39,000 more seats per annum at peak times by December 2017’ appears to equate to just 150 extra seats per day - or just two additional carriages - on the Edinburgh to Plymouth route through Leeds, Birmingham and Bristol.

“This is hugely disappointing, given the continuing growth across the West Midlands rail network and the fact that there has been almost no increase in the capacity provided by the Cross Country rail franchise since 2008/9.

“With many Cross Country trains already full to standing on peak services into and out of Birmingham, this is a critical issue - especially as the next franchisee will not be in a position to introduce additional trains until the early 2020s. The services are overcrowded now - we can’t wait until the next decade.”

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  • 7D3 - 25/10/2016 15:16

    I think the 9 car HSTs from Virgin Trains East Coast will meet the 39,000 seats capacity on the Edinburgh to Plymouth route and adding two more MK3 coaches (coaches from GWR) to the XC HSTs they will meet the capacity easily by Dec 2017.

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    • BigTone - 26/10/2016 00:57

      That will go a long way until XC can get some bi-modes ordered and delivered. Maybe cascade some Voyagers to the Birmingham, Stanstead route as apparently there are capacity issues on that route.

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  • Chris - 26/10/2016 09:54

    To be fair running an extra HST diagram, in place of a Voyager, twice a week will meet the required seat numbers. After all the good news of the Northern and TPE franchises, this XC extension is poor to say the least. One of the key problems that needs to be tackled is the use of these long distance trains to service very short distance markets - this plagues the West Midlands area like no other, just as local traffic causes congestion on the M5 and M6 motorways through the region. One key plank of any XC strategy needs to be a proper level of S-Bahn style service on the key West Midlands corridors to provide sufficient capacity such that local tickets can be barred from long distance trains. In countries like Germany many local journeys just aren't possible on long distance 'IC' or 'ICE' trains and where they are a hefty premium is payable compared to a ticket for a local train.

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  • Tony Woodward - 27/10/2016 10:17

    Worcestershire, situated at the heart of the UK's longest mainline passenger route, is the only county between Aberdeen and Penzance, with no meaningful service call pattern, via the some 90 weekday Cross County franchise trains passing through the county. A substantial missed latent revenue opportunity!!!

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  • Mitchell Henry Anthony Hurd - 27/10/2016 18:24

    Because of capacity issues on XC routes through Oxford, I currently feel limited to catch the trains to and from Reading and Oxford, or Oxford and Birmingham New Street that start from Reading every 2 hours. Also, South West Trains operate 78-year-old ex-London Underground trains on their Island Line services and have no plans to replace them, which must mean they are unscrappable and are liked by passengers. So continued high-capacity refurbished 1976-1982 HST operation on XC routes will be hugely warmly welcomed by passengers I think!

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  • Andrewjgwilt1989 - 27/10/2016 22:38

    Crosscountry would soon be getting more extra trains to keep the franchise going and to get people off roads and onto trains with current services to keep on going and new services such as Norwich-Shrewsbury via Birmingham New Street, Stansted Airport-Wolverhampton and other new services to be introduced with extra trains to be used.

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    • FrankH - 14/11/2016 12:16

      You have eyes and ears where no one else has Andrew. There's nothing in the extended franchise agreement re the two services you mention. The Wolverhampton one is an extension of the Birmingham service, XC doesn't run out of Norwich which surprises me.

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      • Andrewjgwilt1989 - 14/11/2016 12:26

        Fair point.

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  • FrankH - 15/11/2016 13:01

    With many Cross Country trains already full to standing on peak services into and out of Birmingham, this is a critical issue" As are Virgin services at peak times, but are they full of long distance passengers or commuters to Wolverhampton or Coventry.

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