High Speed Rail - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from Angel Trains (HSR 156)


Angel Trains owns, leases and maintains trains for Train Operating Companies. We are the largest Rolling Stock Operating Company (ROSCO) in the UK:

—  Angel Trains owns nearly 4,500 vehicles.

—  37% of the trains currently leased for operation on the UK rail network are run by Angel Trains.

—  99.8% of our fleet are currently on lease to operating companies.

We do more than just lease trains to Train Operating Companies. Through our team of expert engineers based at our offices in London and Derby, Angel Trains provides expertise in maintenance of leased trains and advice on the purchase of new rolling stock.

Since 1994 we have invested over £3 billion in the UK economy through the purchase of rolling stock, and the refurbishment of existing trains. The single biggest investments made by Angel Trains include over £700 million in new passenger trains for the South West Trains route into London, and £977 million on new tilting trains for the Virgin Railways West Coast Mainline route from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.

Our company was established in 1994 as part of the privatisation of British Rail.

Angel Trains does not have a position on the strategic case for High Speed Rail, as some crucial aspects of the analysis required fall outside its area of expertise. However, Angel Trains would like to respond specifically to Question 2.2, which deals with the potential impact of HS2 on the current, conventional rail network.

2.2  Focusing on rail, what would be the implications of expenditure on HSR on funding for the "classic" network, for example in relation to investment to increase track and rolling stock capacity in and around major cities?

63% of all current rail journeys are accounted for by passengers commuting to and from work or education.[373] While the High Speed line will offer long-distance and business users an alternative, commuters will have no option but to continue to use the conventional rail network on a daily basis.

It is important that these passengers continue to receive the improved service that they have come to expect from the UK rail industry, and also benefit from technological innovation in the future. This can only occur if the conventional network receives continuous, steady, predictable levels of investment. Unfortunately, the past few years have been characterised by a "boom and bust" approach to rail investment as political and departmental priorities are adjusted over time. Angel Trains consider that the political focus on the High Speed 2 project might lead to a significant recalibration, resulting in reduced investment in the "classic" network. We note that the "Economic Case for HS2" already indicates an additional £3.1 billion of cost savings on the classic line.[374]

We do appreciate that, particularly in times of highly constrained public spending, the development and subsequent adherence to a rail strategy and its associated investment programme is a complex undertaking. However, a continuous, predictable investment programme for the "classic" network would have a significant, three-fold impact: on efficiency, on physical assets, and on human capital.

Efficiency and value for money is a dominating focus at present for all the organisations which constitute the rail industry. (As a member of the UK Rail family Angel Trains have engaged at every opportunity with Sir Roy McNulty's Value for Money Review team.) Angel Trains only has the expertise to comment on those issues which impact on rolling stock, but here the "boom and bust" approach has had a significant impact. The Rail Industry Association[375] estimates that the lack of continuity of rolling stock production adds approximately 20% to the cost of rolling stock in Great Britain. This issue is not restricted to train manufacturers, but also impacts the entire supply chain supporting rolling stock manufacture, maintenance and operation over the rolling stock's asset life.

Passenger vehicles have improved since privatisation, leading to measurable, positive changes in passenger satisfaction[376] as a result. Over the course of the next decade technological improvements will allow passengers greater access to Wi-Fi provision, more real-time, integrated information about their current and onward journey, and improved seat allocation systems. The Train Operating Companies who lease our trains will also see benefits from innovation, as our engineers will be able to monitor the health of vehicles in real-time, rather than waiting for the regular maintenance checks. This will lead to increases in safety, reliability and availability of rolling stock.

Finally, human capital will also be affected. Angel Trains believe that stability in the investment environment would also be beneficial in encouraging sustained investment in people and their skills, leading to greater adoption of apprenticeships, graduate training programmes, and general staff development throughout the industry.

May 2011

373   National Rail Travel Survey, updated 2010: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/statistics/datatablespublications/railways/ Back

374   p 12, "Economic Case for HS2: The Y Network and London-West Midlands"

375   Costs of Rolling Stock for the GB national network, published by the Railway Industry Association, 2 August 2010 Back

376   National Passenger Surveys (2005-2010), published by Passenger Focus,

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Prepared 8 November 2011