The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a 12-week public consultation which will help shape the targets of the next InterCity West Coast (ICWC) franchise.
Feedback from the consultation will influence the invitation to tender for the next franchise, which is due to be issued later this year.
The franchise has been operated by Virgin Trains since 1997. A new long-term franchise was awarded to FirstGroup in August 2012 but cancelled soon after when shortcomings were discovered in the way the bids had been evaluated. The collapse of this franchise competition ultimately led to an overhaul of the DfT’s entire franchising system.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We are investing a record £38 billion in our railways to deliver better journeys for passengers, and it is essential that passengers’ needs are at the heart of franchises in order to build on this investment.
“The ICWC line covers a vitally important part of our rail network, linking major cities in England, Scotland, and Wales. I want to see improvements to customer satisfaction, investment and better journeys for passengers during the next franchise.”
The new operator is expected to be announced in November 2017, with the new franchise beginning in April 2018.