CrossCountry Voyager at Birmingham New Street

UK: The Department for Transport has published a prior information notice which gives it the ability to directly award a contract for the operation of CrossCountry passenger services.

The services have been operated by Arriva subsidiary XC Trains Ltd since 2007. The franchise was originally due to end on March 31 2016, however, it has been repeatedly extended as a series of directly-awarded contracts. The current two-year contract began on October 13 2020.

DfT told Rail Business UK that is contemplated that this direct award would be made to the incumbent. However, at this stage no decision has been made as to whether a national rail contract would subsequently be awarded to the incumbent.

DfT expects the directly awarded contract to start on October 15 2023 and run for a core term of four years, with options for additional rail periods up to a maximum of eight years.

Services would be ‘substantially similar’ to those currently operated, but subject to a route operating and value for money review.

It is envisaged the services would be:

  • Plymouth – Leeds – Edinburgh, with a limited service from Penzance, and some services extended to Motherwell and Glasgow and also to Dundee and Aberdeen;
  • Reading – Doncaster – Newcastle;
  • Bristol – Manchester;
  • Bournemouth – Coventry – Manchester;
  • Nottingham - Gloucester - Cardiff;
  • Birmingham – Leicester – Peterborough – Stansted Airport;
  • Birmingham – Leicester local services.