Monday, 17 December 2007

Arriva outperforming Virgin Rail

Arriva boasted today that the sacking of Virgin from the long-distance CrossCountry train network has led to an immediate and dramatic improvement in performance. After a decade of disappointments since privatisation and despite the introduction of smart Voyager trains, Virgin Rail - a joint venture between Sir Richard Branson and Stagecoach - was relieved of CrossCountry on 11 November 2007.

In a thinly veiled attack on previous management, Arriva said today: 'With 86.3% of services arriving on time over the first four weeks of operation, that is substantially better than the equivalent services run in the same period last year.'

Arriva has not been immune from hashing up in the past, having been sacked from its North of England train franchise in a maelstrom of strikes and poor services, but it claims things have changed. According to the most recent National Rail Trends 2007-8 performance report, it is confirmed as the UK's most improved rail operator with 92.3% of its services arriving on time compared with 85.7% for the same period last year.

The company, which also runs buses in London, said it is on track to make the £121 million pre-tax profits expected by analysts. (source:

Tata, is to be named as the preferred bidder for Ford’s Land Rover and Jaguar brands in the next few days as the Indian Company is trying to bring the world’s cheapest car to the South Asian country. Tata is the front-runner in a race that includes Mahindra & Mahindra, a fellow Indian car group, and One Equity, the American buyout group.

Tata is set to roll out a 100,000 rupee (£1,200) “People’s Car” next year. Ratan Tata, the chairman, has said that he wants the cut-price vehicle to help poorer Indians to upgrade from motorcycles, which currently transport entire families, to cars.

If Ford chooses Tata, it will be an historic moment for the car industry, marking the first time that a major Western car group has been bought by an Indian company. Ford, the US carmaker is expecting to make up to £1 billion from the sale, although it is expected to keep some form of equity interest in the devolved business.

Tata, a conglomerate whose interests range from salt mining to software engineering, has been gradually expanding in the UK, where it owns the Tetley tea brand, and it is now the world’s fifth-largest steelmaker after buying Corus. Jaguar and Land Rover together employ 15,000 in Britain. It is understood that Tata plans to retain all three of the UK factories, at Solihull and Castle Bromwich in the Midlands and Halewood on Merseyside.

Ford sold Aston Martin earlier this year. The company is struggling to return to profitability after record $12.7 billion (£6.3 billion) losses last year. Tata’s image as a mass-market supplier took a knock at the beginning of the year during protracted negotiations over land for its small car plant in West Bengal, which ended in violence. (source: Timesonline) - Acer & Tata in today's news

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