Stagecoach To Pay UK To Push Rail Deal

(Reuters) – BRITISH BUS AND RAIL GROUP Stagecoach will give the government a £100 million ‘change of control’ payment to take over National Express’s rail unit, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

The payment will ensure the Department for Transport (DfT) will not force Stagecoach to relinquish National Express’s East Anglia and c2c franchises as punishment for it failing to honour a £1.4 billion East Coast contract, the report said, without citing sources.

Stagecoach last week said it had agreed in principle to buy National Express’ British bus and rail operations from a consortium made up of Spain’s Cosmen family and CVC Capital Partners if its £765 million takeover of National Express was successful.

The £100 million sum is higher than analysts expected because the two franchises have a combined operating profit of around £30 million a year and have relatively short periods left to run, said the report.

A spokesman for Stagecoach told Reuters that ‘discussions with the DfT are confidential and we cannot comment further at this stage.’

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More Staff To Join Rail Strikes

(BBC) – MORE STAFF BELONGING TO A THIRD RAIL UNION and working for National Express East Anglia have voted to join a planned 48-hour strike on Thursday.

The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) said 75% of more than 100 booking clerks who took part in the ballot backed the action.

Talks are taking place in a bid to halt more strikes over pay and conditions.

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) and Aslef unions walked out for 48 hours last week.

If the action goes ahead, services in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex and into London will be hit.

The Stansted airport service will also be affected.

TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty accused National Express East Anglia of ‘high-handed’ management style, adding: ‘We have had continued problems at East Anglia and on the East Coast line as the company has tried to drive down costs in its unsuccessful bid to hang on to the East Coast franchise.

‘Our members are now saying they are no longer willing to pay the price for management failures with any more lost jobs or cuts in their conditions at work.’

Andrew Chivers, managing director of National Express East Anglia, said the unions’ demands were ‘totally unrealistic.’

He said: ‘We have offered salary increases above the rate of inflation, and remain available at any time for discussions.

‘Strike action is unnecessary, simply not the solution and I would like to apologise to our customers.’

… (Reuters, 05/08/2009) – Two-day rail strike to hit London’s financial district

… (BBC, 11/08/2009) – Rail strike expected to go ahead

… (Echo, 13/08/2009) – Unions end rail strike

Rail Strike Disruption

(BBC) – RAIL PASSENGERS WERE WARNED to expect disruption as workers with the train operator providing services in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex prepare to strike.

The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and Aslef workers at National Express East Anglia begin the first of three planned strikes on Thursday.

The 48-hour action is part of a dispute over pay and conditions.

The rail company said if members from both unions strike ‘we would not expect to be able to run any train services.’

If strike action does take place, passengers were advised to consider alternative routes.

In Essex, passengers were advised to use C2C services from Southend to London.

… (Reuters, 29/07/2009) – National Express train strike to hit parts of UK

… (Echo, 31/07/2009) – Six more days of industrial action

… (BBC, 03/08/2009) – Talks to end further rail strike

… (05/08/2009) – More Staff To Join Rail Strikes