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TRANSPORT SELECT COMMITTEE RAIL BOSSES GRILLED


Digital editor Molly Dyson compiles the latest news from buyingbusinesstravel.com


THE HEADS OF Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and Northern Rail faced questions from the Transport Select Committee over the chaos caused by a new timetable in May. Nick Brown and Charles Horton from GTR and David Brown


RAIL


and Rob Warnes from Northern revealed that driver rosters were drawn up three weeks before the timetable change, rather than the 12 weeks they believed they needed. They admitted they were aware of the potential scale of the disruption before the timetables were officially implemented. David Brown found fault with Network Rail for delays to projects to electrify Northern’s routes, and said the companies were not informed of potential delays until 16 weeks before the new timetables were introduced. He also claimed Northern had asked in January for the timetable roll-out to be postponed after it was made aware of possible delays, but the request was denied by a “significant number of other players”. Brown accepted that the firms would face criticism for “not


Rail journeys decline for first time in eight years


THE NUMBER OF RAIL JOURNEYS has fallen for the first time since 2009-10, with 1.4 per cent fewer trips than 2016-17. The decline in 2017-18 may be fuelled by a 9.2 per cent fall in season ticket journeys, according to statistics from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). Furthermore, a 3.8 per cent increase in ordinary tickets purchased suggests a shift in the type of fares used by passengers. It is the largest annual decrease since 1993-94. London and the South East – which makes up about two- thirds of the national total – saw passenger journeys drop for the second year in a row, with South Western Railway experiencing the biggest fall at 7.9 per cent to 212 million. The ORR said this was the lowest number of journeys on the franchise since 2012-13. Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) had the largest number of passenger journeys of all operators, but factors such as industrial action, staffing issues and planned cancellations contributed to a decrease of 2 million journeys. Chiltern Railways, which opened the direct route between London Marylebone and Oxford City Centre in December 2016, saw a 6.4 per cent increase in passenger journeys. Meanwhile, Scotrail saw its highest growth rate since 2014-15 (3.8 per cent). In the regional sector, Northern saw a decrease of 8.9 per cent caused by snow and strikes. In total, 1.7 billion journeys took place on the UK’s rail


network in 2017-18. Total revenue across the UK for the year reached just over £9.7 billion.


Correction


IN ISSUE 92 of Buying Business Travel, we erroneously stated Omega Business Travel recorded 155,000 transactions during 2017, with an average value of £71.61 (Leading 50 TMCs, p92). This should have read 32,410 transactions with an average value of £342.49.


8 BBT July/August 2018


shouting louder” about their concerns and admitted their anxieties had been flagged up to an industry readiness board but not the Department for Transport. Further engineering delays in April meant the companies had to give additional training to 450 drivers, which eventually led to the cancellations seen at the start of the new timetable. Horton, who has since announced he would step down as


chief executive of GTR once a temporary timetable was in place, apologised again for the disruption experienced by passengers. Jo Kaye, Network Rail’s head of system operations, said she believed “mitigations” the company had put in place in the days leading up to the switch would have been enough to avoid major disruption, but admitted that turned out to be wrong.


AIRLINES Lufthansa hints at Norwegian talks


LUFTHANSA CHIEF EXECUTIVE Carsten Spohr may be considering a bid for low-cost carrier Norwegian. The news comes after International Airlines Group (IAG)


purchased a stake in Norwegian with a view to eventually submitting a full takeover bid. Talks between Norwegian and IAG have led the low-cost carrier to reject two bids from the group, but chief executive Willie Walsh said at the GTMC Overseas Conference in June he was still interested in continuing the discussion. German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung quoted Lufthansa’s Spohr as saying: “There’s a new wave of consolidation approaching. That means we are also in contact with Norwegian. Takeovers are always a question of strategic value, the price and anti-trust. There are no easy answers.” l Low-cost carriers shake up the transatlantic market, p48-51


So good, it’s better than with the natural eye


Sir Tim Clark on virtual windows on Emirates’ newest aircraft BUYINGBUSINESSTRAVEL.COM


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