Osborne Clarke Advises Arriva on Mobilisation of new CrossCountry Franchise

Osborne Clarke has advised Arriva on its winning bid for the new CrossCountry rail franchise, which XC Trains, a new company in the Arriva Group, took over from Virgin’s CrossCountry Trains on Sunday 11 November.

The CrossCountry franchise is arguably the biggest franchise to change operators since rail privatisation. The new enlarged franchise also now incorporates parts of the former Central Trains franchise. The complex arrangements involved splitting the fleet of Voyager trains formerly operated by Virgin between XC Trains and Virgin West Coast and establishing novel interworking arrangements, at the request of the Department for Transport, enabling the fleet to be shared between the two operators until December 2008, when certain services transfer fully to Virgin West Coast.

Osborne Clarke advised on a wide range of issues as part of the complex franchise transfer process, including:

advising on the statutory transfer scheme and related documentation transferring assets from Virgin and Central to XC Trains
negotiating rolling stock leases with Voyager Leasing, Porterbrook and Angel
devising ground-breaking joint working arrangements with Virgin West Coast
advising on complex pensions arrangements relating to the transferring employees involving an unprecedented restructuring of a number of sections of the Railways Pension Scheme
negotiating maintenance arrangements with Bombardier Transportation to reflect the split Voyager fleet
advising Arriva on the application of UK merger control and preparing Arriva’s notification to the Office of Fair Trading
Lara Burch, partner, Osborne Clarke, said:

“The launch of XC Trains’ new CrossCountry service is the culmination of months of hard work by all involved. From a legal perspective this was an extremely complex matter involving many different areas of law – not just the specialist rail aspects of commercial and contract law but also pensions and employment, for example.

“Our experience of working with the rail industry since privatisation means that Osborne Clarke is now recognised as one of the leading legal advisers to rail companies in the UK.”

The Osborne Clarke team was led by rail law partner Lara Burch and included partners Simon Spooner (corporate), Simon Neill (competition) and Jonathan Hazlett (pensions), as well as tax, employment and property specialists.

Denton Wilde Sapte acted for Virgin CrossCountry and Virgin West Coast; Ashursts acted for Central Trains; Berwin Leighton Paisner acted for Voyager Leasing; Blake Lapthorn Tarlo Lyons for Porterbrook; Pinsent Masons acted for Angel; and Eversheds acted for the DfT.

Osborne Clarke has an excellent track record in working with rail companies on complex matters, including advising clients such as Grand Central, Eurostar, National Express, London & Continental, Transport for London, London Underground, Docklands Light Railway and the Association of Train Operating Companies

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