About Renaissance TrainsThe company was established in 1997 to promote the formation of private sector companies operating in the UK rail sector.
The initial aim was to establish passenger open access services. Many propositions have been evaluated and two companies created to provide train operations.
Hull Trains was established in 2000 with two Renaissance Trains shareholders who promoted the company having a 20% minority interest which was acquired by First Group in 2014.
In 2013 an initiative was launched to electrify the route between Hull and Selby (Temple Hirst Junction) using private sector funds which attracted wide stakeholder support. The timescales were linked with wiring by Network Rail between Leeds and Selby and the delay to this project impacted on the Hull electrification proposal.
The company has subsequently decided to acquire bi-mode trains that can use electric power ‘under the wires’ between London and Doncaster. The commitment to procure this rolling stock has resulted in the Office of Rail and Contract granting track access rights until 2029.
Infrastructure projects of this kind are likely to succeed in the future as a result of the Shaw Report and past work undertaken with contractors and funders gives Renaissance Trains the experience base to promote these opportunities.
The Wrexham and Shropshire Railway was promoted by Renaissance Trains in partnership with the Laing Rail. It started operations in April 2008 but despite recording record levels of customer satisfaction the market for rail from the towns served coupled with regulatory restrictions on intermediate calling points and the impact of a severe economic recession brought a judgement that profitability would not be achieved in an immediate timeframe. Deutsche Bahn who became the majority interest shareholder after the acquisition of Laing Rail decided not to continue operations after January 2011.
The slowdown in the national economy from 2008 meant that a proposal to form Glasgow Trains which was to provide services from Scotland to Blackpool, Liverpool, and Nottingham did not attract investment backing although the business case for services between Liverpool and Glasgow has been validated as the flow is now included in the new Trains – Pennine franchise.
The passenger open access market in Great Britain continues to attract proposals for market entry and two recent regulatory permissions to start services have been made in respect of services between Euston and Blackpool, and a single class ‘no frills’ operation between Edinburgh and King’s Cross aimed at the low cost airline market.
As well as the skills required to identify potential services that provide new connectivity we offer negotiating experience in securing a track access agreement with Network Rail and the Office of Rail and Road. Agreement with funders also requires a shareholders’ agreement that outlines how financial arrangements and corporate governance will be implemented.
Renaissance Trains has an active freight profile promoting the use of freight multiple units as a solution to market demand to convey smaller loads with trials organised for the Welsh Government to convey forestry products.
With a new emphasis on innovation in the logistics industry the FMU is an operating solution that will be attractive as rail freight market share grows in response to environmental issues associated with the use of heavy goods vehicles.
The advent of devolved authority for transport decision making in Scotland, Wales and the English combined authorities will provide impetus for new passenger services that improve connectivity and freight initiatives to meet market needs where a competitive offer is unavailable.