By Phil Marsh

German Government transport subsidiary Arriva wins London Overground franchise

Published: 18th March 2016

Network Southeast to be reborn by Transport for London?

Transport for London (TfL) has announced it intends to award the new London Overground train operator contract to Arriva Rail London Limited. The contract lasts for seven and a half years from November and has an option for a two year extension.

The current operator LOROL was a joint venture between Arriva and MTL holdings but from November will solely be run by Arriva. The station modernisation plan will continue as will the introduction of more frequent services using new trains from 2018 on routes from Liverpool Street and on the about to be electrified Gospel Oak to Barking line.

The new deal which is a service delivery contract rather than a true franchise and will bring extended operating hours on some routes and the introduction of Boxing Day services on some routes. Sustained improvements in performance levels are included in the deal with Arriva incentivised to do so with the new contract.

TfL will remain responsible for setting fare levels and marketing the services and will retain fares’ revenue to be reinvested in improving the transport network. TfL also retains all non-ticket revenue at stations such as advertising, retail and car parks. Arriva will be responsible for ticket retailing and for undertaking revenue protection activities.

Punctuality will be measured for commuter services to three minutes within the scheduled arrival time to encourage closer working with Network Rail and train providers Bombardier to continue to improve reliability and provide high quality services for customers.

They said:

Gareth Powell, TfL’s Chief Operating Officer, London Rail, said: “We have worked hard to deliver major improvements for our customers, taking a neglected part of the transport network and transforming it to support new homes, jobs and economic growth across the Capital. Arriva will build on this by extending operating hours, improving frequencies and introducing new trains. I would also like to thank the existing operator LOROL for their work that has helped make London Overground the huge success story it is today.”

Arriva will operate all London Overground routes, including future Crossrail services on the Liverpool Street station to Enfield Town, Cheshunt (via Seven Sisters) and Chingford, as well as services between Romford and Upminster.

Who bid for the contract?

The shortlisted bidders were:

Arriva Rail London Limited

LoKeGo Limited (a joint venture between Keolis (UK) Limited and Go-Ahead Holding Limited)

Metroline Rail Limited

MTR Corporation

London rail extension plans

TfL is proposing to extend the London Overground network to Barking Riverside to create better rail services to accommodate a rapidly growing population and to support new jobs and homes. Since TfL assumed responsibility for what is now known as the London Overground in 2007, passenger numbers have risen by 400 per cent and the network has become one of the most reliable in the UK.

London Overground now carries over 184 million customers a year, equating to more than 585,000 a day. A 5th carriage has added 25% capacity to LOROL services in a project just ended and more will be added when another 45 new trains will be introduced from 2018 on the Liverpool Street to Enfield Town, Cheshunt (via Seven Sisters) and Chingford routes, and between Barking and Gospel Oak and Romford and Upminster.

Network Southeast lite?

TfL has proposed a new partnership with the DfT to provide strategic direction around rail passenger services across London and the South East. This will look at introducing more frequent services, more reliable trains, better interchanges and increased capacity. A London Suburban Metro service is being promoted with the potential for more than 80 per cent of stations to have a train every 15 minutes, up from 67 per cent today.

More regular services via Clapham Junction to South East London and Kent is also being looked at. New railway lines will also be investigated to connect poorly serviced areas and to support new homes and jobs.

Any new partnership would work closely with train operators, Network Rail and others with local and regional bodies having an important role, providing a stronger voice for local people.

Somewhat radically, thirty years after Network Southeast was created by British Rail, TfL is suggesting that responsibility from the DfT for providing inner suburban rail services that operate mostly or wholly within Greater London is transferred to TfL.

Trains included will serve Cannon Street, Charing Cross, London Bridge, Moorgate, Victoria and Waterloo with the transfer to take place over the next few years. Outer suburban services will remain under the authority of the DfT’s and TfL says that the partnership will ensure that all the region's passengers benefit from a joined-up approach, and none are disadvantaged.

Three principles for success are envisaged, more frequent services, better interchanges and increased capacity to support growth, carry more people and help address overcrowding.

Greater reliability for all passengers provided by putting excellent performance at the heart of train operator contracts with high customer service standards are also being proposed. Improved fares and ticketing and weekend and night services and a more accessible network are planned.

What is behind this strategy?

The London Overground has been transformed over the last decade but the population is forecast to grow from 8.6 million today to 10 million by 2030 in London. The surrounding region’s population is also expected to expand from 15 to 17 million so a better rail service is essential.

And it is this population growth that is helping drive rail expansion across the UK.

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