London, United Kingdom (Urban Transport News): In a significant development for the UK's rail industry, Arriva Group's CrossCountry train operating company has been awarded a new contract by the Department for Transport (DfT). This contract reaffirms CrossCountry's prominent status as a leading national rail operator and extends its legacy of 16 years in providing essential rail services across Great Britain.
The commencement date for the new contract is set for October 15, with a guaranteed core term of four years. This news underscores Arriva's enduring influence within the UK rail market and signals CrossCountry's commitment to enhancing the customer experience. A key aspect of this commitment is a comprehensive refurbishment plan for both the Voyager and Turbostar fleet. This marks the first major refurbishment in two decades and includes the installation of state-of-the-art CCTV and Automatic Passenger Counting equipment, new carpets, and energy-efficient LED lighting. These enhancements aim to offer passengers a more comfortable and secure journey.
Under the renewed contract, CrossCountry is also preparing to implement improvements to its timetable. Among these changes is the introduction of a new daily direct service connecting Cardiff and Edinburgh, which will significantly enhance transportation options between these two major cities. Furthermore, CrossCountry is exploring the possibility of reintroducing services between Cambridge and Stansted Airport, a move that will strengthen connections across Great Britain.
David Brown, Arriva Group's Managing Director of its UK Trains division, expressed his enthusiasm for the contract renewal, stating, "This is great news for Arriva Group, our dedicated team at CrossCountry, and, most importantly, for our valued customers. We take pride in our longstanding presence in the UK rail industry and our ability to effectively manage and deliver rail services across the nation. The government's trust in Arriva reflects our commitment to providing enhanced connectivity and superior services, ensuring the longevity and growth of Britain's rail network."
CrossCountry's extensive network spans from Cornwall, the South Coast, the Midlands, and South Wales to the northern regions of England and central and north-east Scotland. The company plays a vital role by connecting seven out of 10 major UK cities, in addition to serving numerous university towns and regional airports. The contract renewal secures continuity for the approximately 85,000 daily passengers who rely on CrossCountry's vital connections.
This achievement builds upon Arriva's strong reputation in the UK rail sector and follows closely on the heels of a two-year contract extension for Arriva Rail London, responsible for operating the London Overground concession on behalf of Transport for London.
Arriva Group, through its UK Trains division, boasts extensive experience in operating long-distance, commuter, urban, inter-urban, and regional train services. This portfolio includes Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, Grand Central, and Arriva Rail London. Notably, Arriva Group is the sole owning group with experience across all contract types currently in use on Britain's railway, encompassing national rail contracts, concessionary contracts, Open Access operations under the Grand Central brand, and rail maintenance services provided by Arriva Traincare.
The new contract is set to run for a minimum of four years, with the possibility of a further four-year extension, subject to the discretion of the Secretary of State. This development signifies a significant milestone in the evolution of Britain's rail system, promising improved services and connectivity for passengers across the nation.