Our Ref: BR2/15/6
18th February 2020
RE-FRANCHISING OF ARRIVA RAIL NORTH
As you are aware the Government announced that on the 1st March 2020 Arriva Rail North will cease operating and will be taken over by the Department for Transport’s Operator of Last Resort (OLR). This will see Arriva Rail North being renationalised to a publicly owned Train Operating Company, trading under the name of Northern Trains Ltd.
The union has been in discussions with both Arriva Rail North and the OLR Director to formalise the TUPE process and to address any of the concerns we have. Whilst this is only a brief update the union will continue to be in discussion with both companies and will raise any issues with you and your colleagues when they arise.
The OLR Northern Trains has outlined that they are undertaking a 100-day review of the franchise and will assess and review all matters that effect the franchise. The union has been advised that as a relevant stakeholder we will be fully involved in the process and will be consulted on any issues accordingly.
The National Executive Committee has considered this matter and has acknowledged the key issues discussed so far. These are outlined as follows:
TUPE Transfer Process & Service Agreement
Arriva Rail North and Northern Trains are running road shows which have already started taking place. All depots, engineering depots, stations etc will be visited, with the company circulating questions and answers update briefs that will hopefully address concerns you have during the process.
The service agreement and operating licence will be finalised and approved on 1st March 2020 with it being displayed upon the DfT website for everyone to access.
The Arriva Rail North reciprocal travel arrangements will end on 1st March 2020. The union has raised this with the OLR and has asked them to explore the feasibility of extending such arrangements across to LNER, as the operation of LNER is also controlled by a DfT OLR. The director acknowledged the approach and advised that as a matter of course there will be a review of the wider benefit packages for all affected employees and will form part of the 100-day review.
The OLR will also need to revisit the matter of travel on Mersey Rail as this was a commercial undertaking with Arriva Rail North.
Retirees Travel Passes will continue to be honoured up until the end of the current Arriva Rail North Franchise in 2025
Both pension schemes and the respective pension committees will carry on as it is now and there will be no change.
Carlisle Security Services (Arriva Rail North Contract)
As this is a contractor it would fall outside of our TUPE forum. As you are aware, Arriva Rail North committed to bringing these staff in house during the midpoint of the franchise. The union has sought guarantees from the OLR that they would continue to bring these members in house. However, the OLR stated that this would fall within the remit of the 100-day review and would be contacting Carlisle directly. This obviously presents some difficulty for the union, but we will continue to raise this issue with the company and campaign for all staff to be brought in-house.
Role of the Guard – DOO Dispute
Following the referendum of whether talks should continue, the union has been in discussions with Arriva Rail North over the issues of DOO/DCO. We have asked if the OLR will continue to honour our trade dispute. The company response was that they were happy with the progress that has taken place so far and see no reason as to why the planned discussions (The ACAS working and steering group) should cease. We also raised the issue of Arriva having a commitment in their franchise to introduce 50% DCO on their network and whether this would transfer over. The OLR provided no clear assurances on this issue but again stated that it would be assessed during the 100-day review and that the union, as a relevant stake holder, would be continued to be kept updated.
Whilst the union will continue to defend the role of the guard, members should be aware that should the OLR not provide clear commitments to the guard grade we will have to re-ballot you and your colleagues, as the previous ballot will not TUPE transfer over.
Members should also be aware that on Monday 2nd March 2020 the union is planning a day of demonstrations with events at stations to send a clear message to the Government to “Keep Northern Public” and not to return to the failure and underfunded privatised railway across the North of England. Members should contact their representatives or Branch if they wish to take part in the demonstrations.
The TUPE transfer is being closely monitored by your union, with the National Executive Committee being updated on the issues. I will obviously continue to keep you and your colleagues routinely advised of any issues or questions that may arise. I trust this keeps you advised on the current process.