Supplementary memorandum submitted by
Great North Eastern Railway (PAC 00-01/159)
GNER has been following with interest the inquiry
currently being undertaken into the Channel Tunnel Rail Link by
the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts. CTRL is an
important project for the United Kingdom as a whole but also for
GNER in particular, as we expect a significant number of passengers
to interchange between our services at Kings Cross and Eurostar
services at St Pancras when the new route is completed.
I noted in particular, however, that in their
oral evidence to you on Monday, 9 April 2001, London and Continental
Railways (LCR) made specific reference to GNER when they were
questioned as to the use of their rolling stock. LCR noted the
current use of some "regional Eurostar" rolling stock
by GNER and added that negotiations were continuing for more of
this rolling stock to be leased by this company.
As GNER has, quite understandably, not been
called to give written or oral evidence to the current inquiry,
I thought that it might be useful to the Committee for me to clarify
Last year, GNER secured the lease of three Class
373/2 "regional Eurostar" train sets from LCR. Since
May 2000, two of these trains have been operating between London
Kings Cross and York, providing significant additional seating
capacity on this extremely busy route, and enabling some of our
existing "225" fleet to cater for the growing Anglo-Scottish
sector. The third leased train is used for operational and maintenance
cover. Up until the Hatfield accident last October, GNER had grown
its volume of passengers by 28 per cent since taking over the
franchise in 1996, so the additional capacity was greatly needed.
The use by GNER of these three trains was specifically
authorised by the Department of the Environment, Transport and
the Regions only after a decision had been taken not to deploy
them on the direct services to the Continent for which they had
originally been designed. Thus, GNER's use of these trains makes
use of assets which would otherwise not be employed at all, and
has in no way prevented the introduction of "regional Eurostar"
services for which the Government found no economic case existed.
The Class 373/2 trains are marketed as "White
Rose" services, and have proved to be extremely popular with
our passengers. By the summer, we hope to have approval from the
safety authorities to raise their running speed from 110 to 125
miles per hour. In the longer term, we hope also to have clearance
for them to operate between Doncaster and Leeds.
Our business is now recovering strongly following
the twin tragedies at Hatfield and Great Heck. However, the combination
of these two accidents has resulted in the total loss of one complete
"225" train set. Meanwhile, an announcement on what
we hope will be a new 20-year franchise for GNER has been repeatedly
delayed, with the result that we have been unable to place the
orders for new Advanced Tilting Trains as we would have hoped
to by now.
For these reasons, we are exploring a number
of options for providing additional train capacity in the medium
term. This will probably involve leasing additional "regional
Eurostar" train sets from LCR to cope with increased demand
prior to the arrival of the first batch of new Tilting Trains
from 2005-06, under a new franchise.
I trust that the Committee will find this useful.
Please do feel free to get in touch with me if you would like
any further information.
17 April 2001