Government announces the names of the companies in the running for the new West Coast Partnership

The Government has today, 22 June 2017, announced the names of the companies in the running for the new West Coast Partnership (WCP). The West Coast Main Line includes the Watford to London services, as well as the Abbey Line. 

The company that wins this franchise will be expected to place passengers at the very heart of their services. Passenger numbers have more than doubled in 20 years ago and our country’s railways need to adapt to be able to cope with future demands. 

The Government produced a report last year which highlighted key changes that will have to be made. Bidders are required to demonstrate how they will deliver this specification. They will also be encouraged to put forward improvements beyond those mentioned, giving them the opportunity to come up with innovative ideas and solutions to exceed the needs of passengers. 

The winner of the WCP franchise will also be expected to work with HS2 Ltd to launch the first services on HS2, taking advantage of the extra space it will provide for commuters on the West Coast Main Line. 

The shortlisted bidders for the WCP franchise are all experts in running the UK’s rail network, they are:

  • First Trenitalia West Coast Ltd, a joint venture between First Rail Holdings Limited and Trenitalia SpA;
  • MTR West Coast Partnership Ltd, a joint venture between MTR Corporation (UK) Ltd and Guangshen Railway Company), with the following Key Sub-Contractors: Deloitte MCS Ltd, Panasonic Systems Europe, Snowfall AB, Ltd and WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff; and
  • West Coast Partnership Ltd, a joint venture between Stagecoach Group plc, Virgin Holdings Ltd and SNCF C3).

Richard Harrington MP said: 

I really believe that this franchise renewal represents a unique opportunity to get a better service on our trains, and I'm looking forward to working with one of these companies to improve our transport links substantially.  

I welcome the fact that the Government has asked for a commitment to a 25% increase in vehicles on London services in peak times. This will allow for extra capacity on our busiest service in the morning and evening. I was also glad to see that the Government is asking for a financial commitment to station improvements over the next few years. Watford Junction has been identified as a station that is not fit for purpose and so I know, from my many meetings with Ministers and Network Rail, that this station is a priority. There are also requirements to upgrade our trains and guarantee audio and visual passenger displays.This shows that the Government has listened to feedback from myself and other Watford residents."