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Press releases from businesses across the National Express Group.

National Express Group awarded InterCity East Coast Franchise
14 Aug 2007

National Express Group PLC ("the Group"), a leading international passenger transport company and the UK's best performing train operator, has today been awarded the franchise agreement by the Department for Transport ("DfT") to operate the new InterCity East Coast franchise.

The franchise will commence on 9 December 2007 and will run until 31 March 2015 with the last seventeen months being dependent on meeting set performance targets. The franchise is expected to generate total annual revenue of £600 million in its first full year and £1.4 billion (net present value) over the life of the franchise in premium payments to the DfT.

National Express Group Chief Executive, Richard Bowker said: "We are absolutely delighted that we have won the UK's premier intercity railway. We have won with a bid which is ambitious, deliverable and structured to generate shareholder value.

"Our combined strengths of industry leading operational performance and excellent customer service give us confidence that we will be able to grow the business and increase the number of passengers by providing a service that is value for money and aimed at making travel simpler.

"We have an exciting package of innovation and investment aimed at making these services attractive to many more people. We will offer improved reliability, more trains and seats, easier ways to purchase tickets and an updated catering offer. Our plans have been developed through close consultation with a wide range of stakeholders. We look forward to working with them to deliver a truly world class railway."

The new franchise, which is the arterial North-South rail route linking London with Scotland via Peterborough, Leeds, Doncaster, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness, will be called National Express East Coast.

-ENDS-

For further information, please contact: Adam Walker, Finance Director (analysts)
National Express Group PLC 020 7529 2000
Richard Bowker/ Nicola Marsden/ Alison Flynn (media)
National Express Group PLC 020 7529 2000
Suzanne Bartch/ Brian Hudspith
Maitland 020 7379 5151

There will be a conference call for research analysts and investors at 09:00 (BST) today, 14 August 2007. For details please contact Rebecca Mitchell at Maitland on +44 20 7379 5151.

NOTES TO EDITORS

The franchise will deliver the following improvements and investments for customers, employees and stakeholders during the franchise term:

Industry leading punctuality and reliability
Working with Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation, the franchise will aim to deliver:

  • A step change in performance improvement, the benefits which will start to be seen quickly, increasing to an expected 90.1% PPM (MAA) by January 2010;
  • From December 2010, faster journey times - London to Leeds in 2 hours, London to York in 1 hour 45 minutes;
  • Reduced average journey times between London and Edinburgh with several trains in each direction taking less than 4 hours 20 minutes.

World class customer service

  • Free WiFi service will be extended to the whole train, not just first class;
  • From March 2009, a state-of-the-art website providing a ‘one-stop shop' for entire journeys where specific seats can be reserved online and information on how to reserve car parking and book onward travel is available;
  • For the first time an offer to customers, who have pre-booked tickets and have a seat reservation, to provide a refund for the fare for the journey if a seat is not available;
  • Mobile phone real-time travel information;
  • Car parking by mobile phone, using a system which will remember payment details and car registration;
  • Print at home tickets and m-tickets via mobile phone;
  • An updated catering offer combining the best of traditional service with contemporary food which will be available to first class and all standard class passengers through an at-seat service;
  • Introduction of Smartcard technology to make buying tickets much simpler.

New services, increased capacity and fleet improvements
Working with Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation, the franchise will aim to deliver:

  • A new two-hourly direct Lincoln-London service;
  • An extra train to York, giving a two-hourly service throughout the day to York and providing an improved service and better connections at intermediate stations;
  • £24 million investment in rolling stock; including a refurbished fleet of extra trains in operation from December 2010;
  • From December 2010 a provision for up to 25 extra services which would deliver an additional 14,000 extra seats each day;
  • An increase in the number of weekday trains from 136 to 161 from December 2010;
  • The installation of CCTV on the existing fleet of trains (IC225 and HST trains) for improved personal security.

Station enhancements and security

  • £7.4 million investment in station upgrades to provide improved facilities including waiting rooms and electronic real-time information points;
  • £560,000 spent on 80 CCTV cameras for stations;
  • £2 million on providing up to 33% more car parking spaces during the franchise term;
  • Electronic information "totem poles" and electronic posters at stations to communicate real-time information on train performance, incidents and future engineering works;
  • £8 million on station gating schemes including automatic ticket gates at eight stations.

Fares and ticketing

  • Regulated fares increases of an average of RPI +1%;
  • Unregulated fares increases at an average of RPI +2.1%;
  • A new ticketing system that matches demand to capacity and offer customers a simplified fares structure, giving them the best possible value fares.

A responsible approach to the environment

  • A reduction in fuel consumption per passenger kilometre by 28% over the franchise term;
  • Faster journey times, industry leading performance and world class customer service making the train an attractive and compelling alternative to air and car;
  • The introduction of the "Carbon Club" travel incentive scheme that will encourage repeat travel on public transport by rewarding individual rail customers for making choices that are more environmentally sustainable;
  • A focus on environmental initiatives at depots, stations and offices to conserve more, recycle more and waste less.

Successful relationships with stakeholders and employees

  • National Express East Coast headquartered in York;
  • Investment in our people through training, development and life-long learning;
  • Continued relationship building with local stakeholders.