A statement from the National Express Group - East Coast franchise handover
It was announced on the 1st July 2009, that due to the unprecedented impact of the recession, National Express Group (‘the Company’ or ‘the Group’) would be seeking an early hand back of the East Coast Mainline to the DfT. As a result, the franchise will be handed back to Directly Operated Railways Limited (DOR) at 23.59 on 13 November 2009.
The Group was awarded the franchise in December 2007 when East Coast was at the bottom of the national performance league. During the past two years, despite the impact of the recession, focus on operational performance has been exemplary to the extent that only three weeks ago, East Coast was named as the most improved Train Operating Company in the UK by the Office of Rail Regulation in its National Rail Trend Survey.
The National Passenger Survey results measuring customer satisfaction have similarly improved, returning the East Coast franchise to its rightful position as the best long distance operator.
East Anglia and c2c also continue to deliver record service performance; with c2c holding first place in UK franchises since March 2009 and East Anglia achieving a public performance measure on a moving annual average of 91.0% to 17 October 2009, the highest level since the franchise was awarded.
During the last five months, the Company has worked with the DfT and the DOR to ensure an orderly handover of the East Coast franchise, and this has not affected passengers, services or employees.
The Company would like to take this opportunity to thank the employees at East Coast for their contributions during the past two years.
Notes to editors:
List of achievements for National Express East Coast - Dec 2007-November 2009
December 2007-April 2008
- From day one, 9 December 2007, Wireless Internet (WiFi) introduced as a free service in Standard as well as First Class on all NXEC trains. By March 2008, WiFi use on NXEC trains tripled.
- January 2008, a 5 star rating for NXEC’s newly-designed customer-facing website from the UK's best selling internet magazine Web User.
- January 2008, NXEC introduces extra Friday night train King's Cross - Newcastle.
- April 2008, NXEC offered an ‘air ticket amnesty’ to air passengers between Glasgow/Edinburgh and London – including a free sample train journey
- April 2008, NXEC announced results of its travel calculator research which demonstrated that trains are an average 16 per cent more punctual than planes between Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds and London
May 2008 – August 2008
- May 2008, NXEC launched first phase of improvements to on-train catering including new food and drink ranges and menus • June 2008, free WiFi Zone introduced at York station, allowing users unlimited internet access on main platforms, complementing on-train WiFi
- June 2008, NXEC unveiled proposals for 25 new direct services, creating at least 7,000 extra seats a day on the East Coast route from December 2009, subject to regulatory approval
- July 2008, NXEC appointed three route performance managers in drive to improve punctuality
- July 2008, NXEC completed its £2.5m station investment programme with opening of new platform lifts at Grantham station
- August 2008, NXEC launched its print at home tickets and electronic tickets sent to mobile phones
September 2008-November 2008
- September 2008, NXEC launched its new reward programme to encourage more long-distance travellers to choose the train. Benefits offered included free First Class travel vouchers, food and drink offers, and access to First Class lounges at stations along the East Coast route.
- September 2008, two NXEC-managed stations recognised at the National Rail Awards, with Durham named Overall Station of the Year as well as Medium Station of the Year; Doncaster won Large Station of the Year.
- October 2008, NXEC set a new punctuality record for long distance, high-speed services on the East Coast - the best for at least 12 years.
- October 2008, NXEC launched 'Connectors', an education initiative for young people focusing on sustainability and environmental activity.
- November 2008, NXEC launched Carnet, a block of 10 First or Standard Class return tickets for travel on key business routes to/from London at a ten per cent discount, transferable between users.
December 2008-February 2009
- December 2008, NXEC won two 'Golden Spanner' rail industry awards for boosting the reliability of its electric train fleet.
- December 2008, NXEC launched a £5 fare deal to mark its first birthday, offering 100,000 advance tickets for standard class one-way travel at £5.
- January 2009, in the National Passenger Survey by watchdog Passenger Focus, NXEC topped a customer satisfaction league table of long distance train providers and improved customer satisfaction levels with an overall satisfaction rating of 88 per cent - up two percentage points on the previous survey in Spring 2008, and up six percentage points on a year ago.
- January 2009, NXEC introduced At Seat dining menu for First Class passengers offering chef prepared meals served at seat
- February 2009, NXEC began trialling recycling collection trolleys on board trains to increase percentage of waste recycled.
March - June 2009
- March 2009, NXEC unveiled the final two of 30 diesel HST power cars to be re-engineered, upgraded and fitted with new high performing engines as part of a £27m investment.
- March 2009, NXEC won 'Secure Stations' status at 12 of its managed stations, awarded by the British Transport Police and the Department for Transport for its proactive approach to passenger security and safety.
- April 2009, NXEC introduced 14 new Rail Enforcement Officers to the East Coast route as part of the Railway Safety Accreditation Scheme, to work alongside British Transport Police to patrol trains and stations and tackle crime whilst also helping railway staff with revenue protection.
- May 2009, Latest statistics to 30 May show NXEC's public performance measure (PPM - the percentage of trains arriving at their destination within ten minutes of scheduled time) - reached 87.6 per cent.
- June 2009, NXEC and Durham County Council co-launch Station Travel Plan for Durham station. Durham is one of 24 plans encompassing 31 stations across the rail network, aimed at encouraging rail passengers to use more sustainable forms of transport for travel to/from stations. A further launch at Darlington is expected during July.
- June 2009; a refurbished Tourist Information Centre opened at Darlington station by NXEC and Darlington Borough Council. The centre provides information on visitor facilities in the town and the wider Tees Valley region, for which Darlington is the primary rail gateway.
- June 2009; NXEC announces results of a ten-week recycling trolley trial on board its trains between February and April 2009; they include an impressive 11.5 tonnes of waste saved from going to landfill sites. Lessons learned will be used as NXEC works towards fulfilling its commitment to reduce non-hazardous waste from its trains by 50 per cent by March 2010.
July 2009 - To date
- July 2009, NXEC unveils its new First Class Lounge in the East Side offices at London Kings Cross station, offering customers complimentary wi-fi, newspapers and refreshments in the modern and contemporary new lounge.
- August 2009, launch of two fare promotions to encourage travel including a Zonal seat sale offering customers the chance to travel on the ECML for as little as £6; and a Family Railcard discount offering 20% of the price of a family railcard.
- September 2009, NXEC introduces its newly revamped seasonal on train menu for First Class and Standard passengers offering more choice and greater value.
- September 2009, NXEC announces improvements to its website to make booking tickets quicker and easier including the ability to book PlusBus tickets combining rail and bus travel, an option which remembers customers previous booking to save entering details twice and the choice for customers to save their favourite journey.
- October 2009, the ORR quarterly National Rail Trends survey showed that The Group was awarded the franchise in December 2007 when East Coast was at the bottom of the national performance league.
- October 2009, NXEC completes a £20 million transformation of all HST diesel trains in its fleet, with a new interior rebuild. For longer term, ours is due to be the first route to trial the new InterCity Express train, with in-service trails due to begin from 2012 .