West Anglia Great Northern

West Anglia Great Northern,[1] commonly shortened to WAGN, was a train operating company in England. It operated the West Anglia Great Northern franchise between January 1997 and March 2004, as well as the Great Northern franchise between April 2004 and March 2006. It was initially owned by Prism Rail, and was subsequently acquired by the British transport conglomerate National Express.

West Anglia Great Northern
WagnLogo.svg
317316 at Cambridge.JPG
Class 317 at Cambridge in 2004
Overview
Franchise(s)West Anglia Great Northern:
5 January 1997 – 31 March 2004
Great Northern only:
1 April 2004 – 31 March 2006
Main region(s)East of England
Other region(s)Greater London (north and north-east)
Fleet size145
Stations called at55
Parent companyPrism Rail (1997–2000)
National Express (2000–2006)
Reporting markWN
Successors

The West Anglia Great Northern franchise was created as part of the privatisation of British Rail, the recently-founded company Prism Rail successfully bid for it, being awarded a seven year concession for its operation during December 1996. It took over operations from British Rail on 5 January 1997. The company set about overhauling its inherited rolling stock, such as the Class 313 and Class 317 electric multiple units. By 1999, WAGN was amongst the best performing franchises according to statistics compiled by the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising. However, proposed open access services between Peterborough and Doncaster by WAGN were rejected by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) due to a lack of capacity.

During July 2000, Prism Rail, along with WAGN, was acquired by the British transport conglomerate National Express via a £166 million deal. In January 2002, as part of a wider reorganisation of the various franchises conducted by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), it was announced that the franchise would be divided, and that the West Anglia portion would be merged into the Greater Anglia franchise. On 10 May 2002, a northbound WAGN service derailed at Potters Bar, resulting the deaths of seven people and the injury of a further 76; services were heavily disrupted and special measures were implemented in response. In December 2005, the Department for Transport (DfT) awarded the recently-created Thameslink franchise to rival company FirstGroup, thus the services operated by WAGN were transferred to the new operator First Capital Connect on 1 April 2006.

HistoryEdit

 
Corporate logos used by WAGN
 
Interior of a refurbished Class 313
 
Refurbished Class 317 in the original WAGN livery at Liverpool Street station in 2006

During 1995, amid the privatisation of British Rail, several individuals from the bus industry decided to found their own company, Prism Rail, to bid for some of the newly-created rail franchises.[2][3] In its bid for the West Anglia Great Northern franchise, Prism promised that it would make a premium payment of £24.8 million to the franchising office in 2004. During December 1996, it was announced that that Prism had been awarded a seven year concession to operate the franchise, which was the company's fourth awarding of a passenger train franchise at that time.[4][5]

On 5 January 1997, West Anglia Great Northern commenced operations, taking over service from British Rail, including their rolling stock.[6] During the late 1990s, West Anglia Great Northern submitted a application to operate extended services on an open access basis between Peterborough and Doncaster; however, the proposal was rejected by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) due to a reported lack of capacity on the route.[7]

By 1999, according to statistics compiled by the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising, West Anglia Great Northern was amongst the best performing franchises, being one of only seven franchises to obtain a B grade, for which its average punctuality had to be above 90 per cent while its average reliability figures had to be exceed 99 per cent.[8]

During July 2000, it was announced that Prism Rail, and thus West Anglia Great Northern as well, had been acquired by the British transport conglomerate National Express in exchange for £166 million.[9][10] That same month, the company had agreed to invest £20.5m into the network, and had reported that the Great Northern portion of the franchise' operations were running at a profit.[9]

In January 2002, as part of a wider reorganisation of the various franchises conducted by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), it was announced that the franchise would be divided, and that the West Anglia portion would be merged into the Greater Anglia franchise.[11] During December 2003, the SRA awarded the Greater Anglia franchise to National Express, resulting in the transfer of the West Anglia services to One on 1 April 2004.[12] The company was also granted a two-year extension on the West Anglia Great Northern franchise; thereafter, the Great Northern services were retained with the company commonly referring to itself as WAGN rather than West Anglia Great Northern.[13]

On 10 May 2002, a major rail accident involving a northbound WAGN service occurred at Potters Bar, resulting the deaths of seven people and the injury of a further 76.[14] The train, a four-coach Class 365 Electric multiple unit, had derailed while passing over a set of points just south of Potters Bar railway station at 97 mph (156 km/h); these points had unintentionally moved while still underneath the third coach.[15][16] In the aftermath of the accident, WAGN services were heavily disrupted and delayed, leading to a special timetable being implemented for a time.[17] During April 2004, the railway infrastructure services company Jarvis plc admitting liability for the accident.[18]

ServicesEdit

West Anglia Great Northern operated all-stops and limited stops West Anglia services out of London Liverpool Street to Chingford, Enfield Town, Hertford East, Stansted Airport, and Cambridge, and all-stops and limited stops Great Northern services out of London King's Cross to Cambridge, King's Lynn and Peterborough, including the Hertford North loop line.[citation needed]

Rolling stockEdit

West Anglia Great Northern inherited a fleet of Class 313s, Class 315s, Class 317s, Class 322s and Class 365s from British Rail.

Between 1997 and 1999, two of the five Class 322 electric multiple units were loaned to First North Western,[19] after which all five units were transferred to ScotRail during 2001.[20]

The first trains to undergo overhaul work were twenty-four Class 317/2 multiple units; these were adapted to be more suitable for long-distance use, changes included the installation of lower-density seats throughout, an improved first class area, the addition of carpet, and repainting. Dedicated bicycle and wheelchair spaces and improved lighting were also provided, while the exterior received a new white, grey, blue and red livery.[21]

West Anglia Great Northern also opted to improve its suburban trains, such as the Class 313 multiple units, which gained new seats with higher backs, provisions for wheelchair users, and minor improvements to fittings such as stanchions in the passenger areas. These emerged from refurbishment at Railcare, Wolverton in a plain white undercoat,[22] before a metallic purple livery was introduced in 2001.[23]

Between 1999 and 2000, nine Class 317/1s were refurbished for use on the dedicated Stansted Express service, they were reclassified Class 317/7. These multiple units featured improved interiors and a new metallic blue Stansted Express livery.[24][25]

During 2004, sixteen Class 365s were transferred to WAGN from South Eastern Trains.[26] Before their entry into service, these multiple units had their original DC shoe gear removed and pantographs fitted instead.[citation needed]

Fleet at end of franchise
Class Image Type Top speed Number Built Notes
mph km/h
03   Diesel–mechanical locomotive 28.5 45.9 1 1962 03179 "Clive", used as shunter at Hornsey TMD
313   EMU 75 120 41 1976–1977 London Moorgate/London King's CrossHertford North, Letchworth Garden City and Welwyn Garden City
 
315   EMU 75 120 18 1980–1981 London Liverpool StreetChingford, Cheshunt and Enfield Town
London Liverpool StreetHertford East (peak times and Sundays only)
 
317   EMU 100 160 72
  • 1981–1982
  • 1985–1987
London King's CrossCambridge
London Liverpool StreetCambridge, Hertford East and Stansted Airport
StratfordStansted Airport
365   EMU 100 160 40 1994–1995 London King's CrossCambridge, King's Lynn and Peterborough;
25 originally; one written off in the Potters Bar rail accident of 2002; 16 added in 2004 and 2006 from South Eastern Trains

DepotsEdit

West Anglia Great Northern's fleet was maintained at Hornsey and Ilford depots.

DemiseEdit

As part of a franchise reorganisation by the Strategic Rail Authority, the Great Northern services were merged into the Thameslink franchise.[27][28] In December 2005, the Department for Transport awarded the Thameslink franchise to FirstGroup with the services operated by West Anglia Great Northern transferring to First Capital Connect on 1 April 2006.[29]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "West Anglia Great Northern Railway Limited: company no. 3007944". Companies House. Retrieved 24 July 2022.
  2. ^ Harrison, Michael (15 October 1996). "Founders of Prism Rail in £27m shares bonanza". The Independent.
  3. ^ "West Anglia Great Northern (WAGN) Railway correspondence: includes railway business plan..." discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. 31 December 1995.
  4. ^ Tooher, Patrick (7 December 1996). "Prism wins franchise for Great Northern". The Independent. London.
  5. ^ "West Anglia Great Northern Franchise Invitation to Tender". railwaysarchive.co.uk. 6 August 1996.
  6. ^ "Railway Organisations Research Paper 99/80" (PDF). House of Commons Library. 20 September 1999.
  7. ^ "WAGN – Simply no space on East Coast for locals". Rail. No. 374. 12 January 2000. p. 5.
  8. ^ "WAGN reviews brief at Mustoe". marketingweek.com. 4 March 1999.
  9. ^ a b "National Express buys Prism for £166m". The Telegraph. 19 July 2000.
  10. ^ "National Express buys Prism for £166m". The Guardian. 19 July 2000.
  11. ^ Rail. No. 426. 9 January 2002. p. 4. {{cite magazine}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ "National Express wins rail franchise". The Telegraph. 22 December 2003.
  13. ^ "Franchising Program Continues Apace". Strategic Rail Authority. 13 February 2004. Archived from the original on 22 April 2004.
  14. ^ "Rail crash officials will not face manslaughter charges". theguardian.com. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
  15. ^ "Potters Bar interim report" (PDF). Office of Rail Regulation. Retrieved 23 February 2011. Archived 3 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Coroners inquest into the Potters Bar Derailment, Tuesday 1 June" (PDF). pottersbarinquest.independent.gov.uk. National Archives. Retrieved 30 May 2016.
  17. ^ "WAGN services face long delays and disruption". newsshopper.co.uk. 15 May 2002.
  18. ^ Clark, Andrew (28 April 2004). "Jarvis admits liability for Potters Bar crash". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  19. ^ "NWT livery for Class 322 Stansted units". Rail. No. 329. 22 April 1998. p. 12.
  20. ^ Rail. No. 427. 23 January 2002. p. 58. {{cite magazine}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ "West Anglia Great Northern unveils new branding". Rail. No. 326. EMAP Apex Publications. 11–24 March 1998. p. 12. ISSN 0953-4563. OCLC 49953699.
  22. ^ "WAGN ghost trains". Rail. No. 368. 20 October 1999. p. 12.
  23. ^ "WAGN reveals livery in line with c2c's". Rail. No. 421. 31 October 2001. p. 10.
  24. ^ "WAGN unveils £10m Stansted Express". Rail. No. 391. 6 September 2000. p. 6.
  25. ^ "Class 317". The Railway Centre. Archived from the original on 1 March 2003.
  26. ^ "Class 365". Southern E-Group.
  27. ^ Rail franchising arrangements Strategic Rail Authority Press Release
  28. ^ Rail issue 496 15 September 2004 page 7
  29. ^ "Department for Transport Announces Winner of Thameslink/GN Franchise" (Press release). Department for Transport. 13 December 2005. Archived from the original on 10 March 2007.

External linksEdit

  Media related to West Anglia Great Northern at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by Operator of West Anglia Great Northern franchise
West Anglia 1997 – 2004
Great Northern 1997 – 2006
Succeeded by
Succeeded by