We know how important the brand is to the current franchise. We’re currently developing the new franchise’s brand and hope to be able to announce everything soon, including the new name. From the start of the new franchise, we’ll go through a new branding process to make sure the new brand and vision is reflected across the network.

FirstGroup and Trenitalia have come together for the West Coast Partnership franchise. We believe our partnership enhances our ability to deliver the best possible service to customers through our combined expertise. Trenitalia is very experienced at introducing and operating high speed rail services, complementing FirstGroup’s expertise in running regional and long-distance services in the UK.

From the start of the new franchise, we’ll go through a new branding process to make sure the new brand is reflected across the network. This includes station literature as well as other branded accessories.

Any tickets purchased before 8th December 2019 for travel after this date, are valid for travel with the same terms and conditions. Services are opened for reservation and Advance tickets up to 24 weeks before the travel date; this process will continue through the transition period.

At the start of the new franchise, all employees will transfer across following the well-established Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations process (known as “TUPE”) in their existing roles. Once the new franchise starts, proposals we put forward during the bid stage will be explored and progressed through appropriate staff consultations, as you would expect from any employer. As we have said, we’re looking to build upon strong foundations and not starting everything from scratch.

We’ll work with Virgin Trains to regularly update people on our plans before the new franchise starts. We’ll communicate through a combination of Virgin Trains’ existing channels, staff representatives and staff roadshows. We will ensure employees are informed as soon as possible with details of the new franchise, sharing our vision for the new business and the roles they will play in it.

When vacancies become available for any role we welcome applicants from across our TOCs. Keep an eye on what roles FirstGroup is recruiting for at https://uk.firstgroupcareers.com and Trenitalia at https://www.fsitaliane.it/content/fsilavoraconnoi/en.html Once the franchise starts we’ll send regular updates with where our current vacancies are for anyone interested.

TUPE

TUPE is the acronym used for the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006.

Where a business or service is transferred from one employer to another, TUPE serves to protect the employees’ terms and conditions of employment. What this means is that anyone who is actively involved in the activities that are transferring at the time of the start of the new contract, will automatically become employees of the new employer with all their terms and conditions of employment (save for pensions) in-tact.

Pensions do not transfer under TUPE, but don’t worry(!) it is a commitment of the new franchise that your pension transfers to First Trenitalia (FT) from the start date. Your membership of the Railway Pension’s Scheme (RPS) will be retained, therefore your membership of the scheme will continue after the transfer date. After the transfer date you will receive a letter confirming this position.

Before a transfer of ownership happens, employers must consult with trade union or employee representatives:

  • that the transfer is happening, when it’s happening and why
  • how the transfer will affect them
  • how many agency workers they’re using and what types of work they are doing

You will be formally notified of the process, meanwhile we hope these questions help you understand what to expect.

Your employment will transfer to the West Coast Partnership (WCP) (operating as First Trenitalia West Coast Rail Limited) on 8 December 2019.

If you do not wish to transfer you have the right to object to the transfer. The result of this is that you will have effectively resigned from your job and your employment will terminate on 8 December 2019. You will not have any claims against FT or Virgin Trains and you would not be entitled to any redundancy payment, severance or payment in lieu of notice.

There is certain information known as Employee Liability Information that Virgin Trains must provide to FT under TUPE, this includes details such as your name, age and details of your employment.

When the transfer is complete, all employees will get an up-to-date written statement of employment, confirming FT as the new employer and confirming that their terms and conditions haven’t changed.

FT are committed to no zero-hour contracts in the new franchise. Colleagues currently employed on a zero-hour contract will be consulted with as part of the TUPE process, recognising the key role these colleagues play in delivering the current customer operation.

Under the TUPE Regulations, the term “measure” is used to describe when an employer has plans to make changes to employment arrangements after the transfer. Employers must consult about any measures they are thinking about or intend taking as a result of the transfer. Measures are often interpreted widely and include non-contractual and organisational matters. If there are any measures that FT proposes to take, we will consult with the relevant Trade Unions and you will be informed of these in the coming weeks.