Possible two-year extension for ICWC franchise
The Direct Award for the InterCity West Coast (ICWC) franchise could last for 24 months, if an option to extend it is granted.
The Department for Transport announced on November 4 that the West Coast Partnership (WCP) deal would run ICWC ahead of the planned introduction of HS2, and would also run the first four years of the new railway ( RAIL 814). WCP is due to start in 2019, which meant that a DA was required for the planned 12-month gap.
On December 6, DfT issued a short-term contract information notice that stated: “The term of the contract shall be formed of both a core period of April 1 2018 to April 1 2019 plus an optional extension, callable by the Secretary of State, of a maximum 13 additional reporting periods.”
Within the deal, the operator of the ICWC Direct Award must:
Improve the passenger experience as measured by the National Rail Passenger Survey.
Secure specific requirements that are now Departmental policy, including free WiFi, smart-based ticketing options and Delay Repay. Improve PPM performance. Ensure obligations to co-operate with any future West Coast Partnership franchisee, the DfT, Network Rail, HS2 Ltd and industry groups in planning and preparation of services and works for HS2, to minimise disruption to passengers using ICWC continuation services.
Maintain and develop existing joint working initiatives.
It states that the deal will start on April 1 2018 and last 24 months.
The current ICWC franchise started on June 22 2014 and is operated by Virgin Rail Group (a joint venture with Stagecoach Group and Virgin). It is due to end at 0159 on April 1 2018. The current deal has already been extended for a year from April 1 2017.