New CrossCountry contract planned

The Government intends to aware a new CrossCountry rail contract from October 2023 running for up to eight years, according to a Prior Information Notice published on 23 December. This will comprise a core term of four years with additional periods available up to a maximum eight years.

CrossCountry is currently operated by Arriva under a unique Operating Contract Franchise Agreement (OCFA), which began in October 2020 and runs for three years with an optional one-year extension. It succeeded the previous direct award franchise agreement under which CrossCountry was operating, although delivery of commitments within that agreement continued under the OCFA. Arriva has operated CrossCountry since 2007.

According to the PIN, the services under the new contract from October will be ‘substantially similar’ to those under the OCFA, but ‘subject to route operating and value for money (VfM) review’. Insiders are optimistic the eight-year term will allow much-needed investment in the operator’s fleets and service proposition.