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Promoting excellence in railway operational management

Tackling tough times

Speakers from First Great Western and Arriva CrossCountry tell South West Area members how their Tocs survived the recession

A First Great Western service on the Dawlish wall in Devon

‘Both companies had looked at the commercial side of their business through improved marketing and better use of technology’

passenger numbers in some areas, there has been a decrease in others. Kendall and Hopwood spoke of their contracts and franchise obligations, with both Tocs looking at what innovations are currently in place and reviewing them to ensure their agreements are as competitive as possible. They said that it was not always feasible, however. For example, when a contract is


Mark Hopwood, managing director of First Great Western, and Sarah Kendall, production director of CrossCountry, were the speakers at the first event in 2010 of the recently rejuvenated Institution of Railway Operators (IRO) South West Area. With a talk entitled ‘Managing

a train operating company through a recession’, Kendell and Hopwood gave the audience a view of the challenges facing the two train companies.

According to First Great

Western’s Andy Castledine, the IRO’s South West area contact, there are many similarities between the two apparently different companies. ‘It was interesting to see that, although First Great Western and CrossCountry are two very different

PAGE 30 JUNE 2010

franchises, serving different routes and markets, there were numerous similarities surrounding improved financial management of the business to get value for money,’ he said.

Both Kendall and Hopwood

spoke of the importance of recognising how the recession has made train companies more aware of how they spend their money and the importance of reviewing what contracts are in place in terms of meeting franchise obligations. Both companies had looked at

the commercial side of their business through improved marketing and better use of technology – all geared towards generating more revenue by filling seats on off-peak trains. Successful campaigns run by

the two Tocs included the Club 55

offer by First Great Western and website improvement works by CrossCountry. However, although both companies have seen a rise in

inherited, such as with the fleet of Voyager trains CrossCountry leases from Bombardier, agreements are not easy to alter. When it comes to operational matters, Hopwood told the audience that First Great Western discovered

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