Memorandum by Merseyrail (FOR 114)
THE FUTURE OF THE RAILWAYS
Merseyrail is a unique concession in the UK
as the role of the SRA has been delegated by Parliament to the
Public Transport Executive (Merseytravel) and the concession agreement
is between the operator and Merseytravel. Also, the length of
the concession is 25 years from 20 July 2003 with review dates
along the way, allowing both Merseytravel and the operator to
take the long view.
The concession is operated by Merseyrail Electrics
(2002) Ltd, a 50/50 Joint Venture company between Serco and NedRailways.
The new operator (branded Merseyrail) operates the Wirral Line
and the Northern Line.
Some key facts are:
75 route miles, outer termini at
Southport, Ormskirk, Kirkby, Hunts Cross on the Northern Line,
and New Brighton, West Kirby, Chester and Ellesmere Port on the
3rd rail electrification (750 v dc).
Core city centre underground network,
including 6.5 miles in tunnels and five underground stations.
Underground section includes the
original Mersey railway tunnel opened in 1886.
Approximately 100,000 passenger journeys
per weekday or 30 million passenger journeys per annum.
Nearly 50% of passengers are daily
67 stations of which 66 are managed
One of the most intensively used
networks in the UK with over 780 train services daily (Mon-Fri).
Clockface, regular interval timetable
(15 minute frequencies, increasing to 5 minutes on city centre
Approximately 1,100 staff.
59 electric multiple units leased
from Angel Trains.
Major refurbishment of entire rolling
stock fleet in progress, financed and initiated by the PTE Merseytravel
to be completed by the end of 2004.
Current PPM (period 7) 95.6%; moving
annual average 93.2%.
Merseyrail is an urban network of vital importance
to the transport infrastructure of Liverpool and Merseyside. In
view of the ongoing regeneration of the city and the anticipated
developments related to the Cultural Capital of Europe award for
2008, rail will play a major role in the economic life of the
region and be a vital part in the urban transport network which,
thanks to the efforts of Merseytravel, is already "multi-modal".
Merseytravel has recently started the bidding
process for the Merseytram project, making it possible to further
integrate transport modes in the city and connect parts of the
city which are not currently well served with high quality urban
transport. Merseyrail fully supports this addition to the cities
infrastructure and the opportunities it will offer for further
Merseyrail is a firm believer in a partnership
approach. In our opinion, the fragmentation of the UK rail industry
has been a factor in the relatively poor performance and the slow
recovery after the turmoil of the Hatfield accident. Our partnership
approach has been evident throughout the bidding process when
the Serco/NedRailways bid team and the Merseytravel team worked
closely together, within the rules of the bidding process, and
established a common purpose for the concession. We are convinced
that the local focus of Merseytravel and their sense of "ownership"
has been a major factor in the successful bidding process, which
was completed on schedule and without delays or material changes
We believe that the fact that some Serco/NedRailways
key managers who were part of the bid team (including the Managing
Director) have taken on operational roles in the concession, will
build on the partnership with Merseytravel and ensure delivery
of the programme as outlined in the bid.
Merseytravel and Merseyrail have established
an open relationship and are able to communicate quickly and effectively
to discuss issues before they become adversarial. To this end,
we have given the key Merseytravel officers the same pagers issued
to Merseyrail managers to keep them informed in real time of operational
Partnership should be more than a joint letter
of intent between two or more parties; it is a genuine belief
that in the rail industry no single partner can perform without
the involvement of others. In our opinion, it is worth investing
time, money and effort in helping partners to achieve their goals
to help us as an operator to improve in the longer term. An example
of this is our approach to the possessions which Network Rail
and their contractors need to carry out maintenance and renewals
of the infrastructure. Together with Merseytravel, we believe
that allowing more time for this activity by replacing some train
services with buses late at night on specific days, will benefit
Network Rail to work more efficiently and achieve their targets
but will also help us as an operator in the long term to improve
Any Train Operating Company is judged on its
performance in terms of PPM. In our view, it is important to be
able to be involved in all of the factors which influence this
performance either through genuine partnerships or by controlling
these factors direct. An example of direct control is the maintenance
of our fleet which for both light and heavy maintenance is carried
out in our own depot after winning the tender for this work recently.
Another example is the installation of our own wheel lathe at
our maintenance depot which will obviate the need to contract
wheel turning out to others and increases the availability of
our rolling stock.
In view of the recent developments in infrastructure
maintenance, the nature of the Merseyrail network and our in-house
expertise, we are keen to explore the possibilities with Network
Rail and Merseytravel of vertical integration of the network.
We stress that ownership is not an issue but control over factors
which influence PPM is.
We have identified the security of passengers
and staff as a priority for the concession and are working hard
to put in place a comprehensive package of measures to improve
the actual situation and, just as important, the perception of
our (potential) passengers. To this end, we believe that a partnership
with our own staff (special constable scheme, staff presence in
the evenings, electronic gating etc), British Transport Police,
local authorities (anti social behaviour orders) and others is
We have recently taken some of these partners
to the Netherlands to look at examples of such partnerships and
their (beneficial) effect on security on trains and in stations.
We will be introducing the first measures from the middle of January
2004 and expect to have the full range of measures in place by
the end of 2004.
As a result of the history of train operators
on Merseyside (BR, MTL, Arriva), the emphasis of the TUPE transferred
staff of Merseyrail is on compliance with the franchise or concession
agreement. We believe that in the new situation whereby the revenue
risk has transferred to the operator and is no longer with Merseytravel
as it was before, more than complying with the concession agreement
is needed to increase the patronage and improve the passenger
experience. We are currently in the process of identifying the
cultural change programme needed to achieve this change of focus
(where are we now, where do we want to get to and how do we get
In the meantime, we have started on some activities
which have a direct customer benefit but are not formally part
of the concession agreement. An example is the "deep cleaning"
of all of our existing rolling stock for the remainder of their
un-refurbished state (until the end of 2004 for some units) at
our own cost (approximately £100,000). We have completed
this exercise for approximately 50% of the fleet at the rate of
one unit per day.
What will happen on Merseyrail in the short, medium
and long term?
Stabilise and sustain current performance levels
Completion of door modifications programme on
Completion of extensive refurbishment of rolling
stock financed and initiated by Merseytravel
New uniforms for all customer facing staff (completed
within two weeks of start of concession)
Re-branding to Merseyrail
Extension of multimodal tickets beyond the Merseyside
boundaries (completed on 29 September 2003)
Within the first few years:
Improved reliability of rolling stock by implementing
various engineering modifications
Improved maintenance of rolling stock (Reliability
Improved cleaning of stations and trains
Introduction of Security Improvement Package
(eg Penalty Fare by January 2004)
Introduction of better station facilities (Customer
Information, Retail etc)
Equip guards with palm top computers
Redesign integrated control center (Sandhills)
Develop, in partnership with Merseytravel, "one
single integrated public transport network that is accessible
Procure new rolling stock
Introduce six trains per hour across the Merseyrail
Extend the Merseyrail network
Merseyrail is vital to the urban
and transport infrastructure of Liverpool and Merseyside.
Genuine partnerships are vital to
take the industry to the next level.
Control, either through partnership
or direct, over factors which influence PPM and other indicators
TOC culture needs to change from
compliance management to customer focus.