Rail franchising and concessions

From supporting on big-ticket projects to advising successful operators to help implement their commitments and obligations in the operational phases of their contracts, we enjoy getting our hands dirty and experiencing operations first hand.

Our team offers legal expertise that gets to the point fast. Advising private sector operators and owning groups bidding for franchises and concessions, as well as procurers of services, both in the UK and internationally, you will have access to authoritative advice and decades of experience.

We have advised on all rounds of UK franchising following privatisation (including the direct award process), including bids for intercity, commuter and regional train operations. 

Franchising and concession arrangements continue to focus on rail stakeholders working collaboratively to drive and deliver real passenger benefits. We have a unique insight into working on projects with key industry stakeholders, such as Train Operating Companies, Network Rail and the Department for Transport, each pulling together to deliver innovative solutions to provide passenger benefits. This includes our experience advising in relation to the possible implementation of revolutionary new on-train digital signalling technology, to boost capacity on the network and eventually remove the traditional colour-light signal.

Whether you are an established participants or considering a new market entry, we can support you to develop winning bidding strategies for both heavy and light rail franchises and concessions. 

A selection of our team’s experience is below:

Rail franchise and concession bids 

  • Advising on every round of UK rail franchising and concessions since privatisation; including English, Scottish, Welsh and TfL competitions such as West Coast (when the franchise was controversially cancelled), East Coast, ScotRail, Docklands Light Railway, Northern, East Anglia and Essex Thameside. 
  • Advising internationally in relation to contracts for the provision of railway services including in Turin and Helsinki.

Direct awards, Emergency Measures Agreements and Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements

  • Advising both Northern Rail and Transport UK Group (formerly Abellio) on their direct award agreements with the DfT and subsequent mobilisations.
  • Advising all Transport UK Group (formerly Abellio), TOCs and c2c on their Emergency Measures Agreements and Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements with the DfT and Transport Scotland arising out of the COVID-19 crisis.

Ongoing franchise/concession advice

  • Advising on ongoing aspects of franchise/concession businesses and regulated contracts – including Transport UK Group (formerly Abellio), Arriva and Trenitalia UK subsidiaries.
  • Advising on a range of commercial relationships such as facilities management, customer interfaces, industry ticketing arrangements, procurement issues, station services, ticketing systems/equipment and other commercial contracts with goods and services providers.

Mobilisations and demobilisations 

  • Advising Transport UK Group (formerly Abellio) on the mobilisation of its new East Midlands rail franchise for the DfT.
  • Demobilising the Tyne and Wear concession for DB Regio Tyne & Wear.

Alliancing/Partnerships with Network Rail

  • Advising Arriva on its partnership with Network Rail in connection with its bid for the East Midlands franchise, a key requirement of the procurement.
  • Advising on the first “deep alliance” between South West Trains and Network Rail, a recommendation of the McNulty Value for Money report.