8 - Cross-border services
8.1 Cross-border rail services, those which run between Scotland and England, are provided by train companies operating under franchises let by the Westminster Government through the Department for Transport (DfT). Although we do not have a direct role in the specification of these franchises, we are entitled to advise the Secretary of State of Transport of our reasonable expectations of their specification.
8.2 The cross-border services provide key connections to London and other English cities. They also currently provide within-Scotland capacity, principally between Edinburgh and Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness (and intermediate stations).
East Coast Trains - Frequent services between Edinburgh Waverley and London Kings Cross (via Newcastle, Durham, Darlington, York, Doncaster). One daily return service extends to/from Glasgow Central, one to Inverness, and three to Aberdeen.
Cross Country Trains - Frequent services between Edinburgh Waverley and SW England (via Newcastle, York, Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham). Seven daily return services extend to/from Glasgow Central, two to Aberdeen, and one to Dundee.
First TransPennine - frequent services from Scotland to Manchester and Manchester Airport. Seven return services to/from Edinburgh Waverley, four from Glasgow Central.
Virgin Trains - Frequent services between Glasgow Central and London Euston. Frequent services from Scotland to Birmingham. Seven return services to/from Edinburgh Waverley, seven to/from Glasgow Central.
8.3 While Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley act as terminus stations for Virgin and First TransPennine services, a number of cross-border services operate beyond Edinburgh Waverley to stations in Scotland.
8.4 Analysis of passenger numbers has shown, however, that the service capacity beyond Glasgow and Edinburgh on these cross-border trains is frequently considerably underutilised. The provision of these services whilst, providing additional capacity, also takes potential passengers and revenue from ScotRail services, and thereby affects the levels of subsidy required from the Scottish Government.
8.5 In addition, the large passenger capacity of cross-border trains over these routes also draws a share of non-operator specific income allocation (ORCATS) from ScotRail.
Operational Research Computerised Allocation of Tickets to Services
ORCATS is the process by which the rail industry allocates revenue from tickets. On a route where there are multiple operators, such as those operated north of Edinburgh, ticket revenue is allocated to operators by a model. The model determines the appropriate revenue share based on the time of day, and day of travel, the timetable and various parameters reflecting passengers response to changing trains, the train service frequency, and journey times. As a result the actual number of passengers carried on any train may be different to the passenger numbers and revenue allocations to the train by the model.
8.6 We are therefore considering whether services north of Edinburgh should be provided by the Scottish franchisee, with Edinburgh becoming an interchange hub for cross-border services in the east of the country. In this scenario cross-border services would terminate at Edinburgh Waverley, with onward connections being provided by ScotRail.
8.7 Obviously cross-border issues will need to be discussed and agreed with the UK Government as cross-border services are specified and let under franchises managed by the DfT.
8.8 This 'Edinburgh Hub' scenario could deliver the following benefits:
- Finance: greater revenue return to the Scottish franchisee (increasing attractiveness of subsequent franchises) and reducing subsidy from the taxpayer for services in Scotland.
- Resilience: all passenger franchised services within Scotland would be provided by one operator which would make it easier to provide services during periods of bad weather.
- Control: all services are controlled by Scottish franchise with no reliance on DfT franchised services for connectivity.
- Simplicity: all services provided by one operator, removing any duplication and inefficiency, and allowing greater network/timetable freedoms for the Scottish operator.
8.9 However, we recognise that there are some possible drawbacks to this scenario. These include a perceived or actual time penalty in having to change at Edinburgh for a journey that might have been previously direct, with the potential consequence that passengers choose instead to use other modes of travel to their final destinations.
8.10 Onward connectivity will be crucial to the success of the hub scenario and we would look for increased service frequency and journey opportunities, so that the maximum value could be obtained from this arrangement.
||Should cross-border services continue to go north of Edinburgh? In operating alongside ScotRail services, how do cross-border services benefit passengers and taxpayers? And who should specify these services, the Department of Transport or the Scottish Ministers?
||Or should the cross-border services terminate at Edinburgh Waverley, allowing opportunities for Scottish connections? And if so, what additional benefits would accrue from having an Edinburgh Hub?