Select Committee on Public Accounts Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


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 the position.

  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.

Christopher Garnett
Chief Executive

17 April 2001

previous page contents

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 30 July 2001