Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60-79)|
WEDNESDAY 19 JUNE
60. You said as part of that statement that
in the old BR days you would not give over the four tracks you
would only give over two. What has changed and made that no longer
(Mr Green) The safety culture is much tougher now,
so it is much harder to do the engineering work whilst a train
is passing you only a few feet on the other side. That is the
61. That is probably one of the most difficult
things that you have said today that we will find it possible
to accept. Are you really telling us that there is now a tougher
safety regime than there was under the old BR?
(Mr Green) Yes and I think the Railtrack witnesses
who are following me will confirm that. There are firm rules now
on health and safety, on what work can be done and what work cannot
be done. That is a serious issue.
62. It used to be possible to go to London via
Sheffield via Manchester. Why would it not be possible during
the weekend working to have a reliable and reasonably fast service
from Manchester either into Sheffield or to the edge of Sheffield
and then down to St Pancras?
(Mr Green) That is one thing we are looking at for
63. Why was it not looked at this year?
(Mr Green) Because there was not enough time, there
are not enough drivers, there are not enough slots on the routes.
Who is going to take their trains off so we can come on their
routes will become a big issue?
64. What about bringing the trains down from
Glasgow via Birmingham and into Paddington?
(Mr Green) Yes, we are looking at Paddington and Birmingham.
65. But for next year not this year.
(Mr Green) Yes. Remembering that for every single
coach I use which is in action on Sunday it is very unlikely we
are going to be able to find that spare capacity on that scale
on all the other routes out of London.
66. What journey times can we look forward to
from Liverpool to London and from Manchester to London?
(Mr Green) When they have finished the work?
67. Tell me how the journey times are going
to be reduced.
(Mr Green) We are aiming for two hours and ten minutes
68. From when?
(Mr Green) May 2004.
69. Is that a promise?
(Mr Green) In between we can accelerate it. We get
there in steps.
70. Have Railtrack agreed to pay you compensation
for failing to prepare the line for high speed?
(Mr Green) This is the subject of a huge negotiation
which is going on at present.
Chairman: Does that mean no?
71. Are you able to tell us the outcome?
(Mr Green) It is a positive negotiation and there
will be an outcome which will leave one able to continue with
the scheme, which is what we want.
72. So you are going to compensate all those
passengers who find themselves wandering around the whole of Middle
England every weekend until December.
(Mr Green) Yes, and part of the cost of the engineering
is that compensation.
73. Do you think it is satisfactory that travellers
from Liverpool to London cannot get to London before the afternoon
unless they pay a minimum of £161?
(Mr Green) On our fare structures?
74. On your fare structures where you have been
increasing open fares Liverpool to London in the morning, in some
cases by 84 per cent, some by 67 per cent. Do you think that kind
of increase is compatible with helping to regenerate the city?
(Mr Green) What we have not been able to do is find
a solution where we can ease that situation and still afford to
buy the new trains. We just need the income which comes from that
fare structure to buy the new trains. We are trapped as much as
75. So the reason for that fare structure is
to pay for new trains.
(Mr Green) Yes. You have £600 million worth of
new trains on the West Coast and it is being paid for by the users.
76. There have been some fairly hefty increases
in those fares which are not capped have there not?
(Mr Green) In the full open fares, yes; they went
up by five per cent in May. The Savers which are capped went up
0.7 per cent and the Virgin Value has not gone up for three years.
77. Some of the others have gone up more than
five per cent. Do you honestly, seriously think passengers are
going to go on paying consistently higher fares for a worse service?
(Mr Green) We are in a trap. The only way we are going
to get new trains is by getting the income. So the new trains
have started running, we have five on the rails now and two are
now running between Manchester and Stafford on testing, from November
they come into service and then people will start seeing value
78. In terms of the unit cost for a passenger
travelling down, what percentage of the fare price is actually
profit, in this case re-invested profit but it is profit for Virgin?
(Mr Green) At the moment?
(Mr Green) In the last year we registered we made