One question which people might want to understand more about is what is the difference between the Abbey Flyer Rail Users’ Group, the Abbey Line Community Rail Partnership and the Rail Operator?

The broad aims of the Abbey Flyer Rail Users’ Group and the Abbey Line Community Rail Partnership are to develop the Abbey Line but the details and how they go about it are different.

The Abbey Flyer Rail Users’ Group, Abfly, is as the name suggests a rail user group.  The group represents and lobies on behalf of the passengers on the line. A number of recent improvements in the line – the later trains, the higher cleaning standards etc. – have come about as a result of direct lobbying of the Department for Transport by AbFly during recent franchise renewal exercises.

“Top level” aims of the Abbey Flyer Rail Users’ Group:

  • Uphold quality: Watch for, and challenge, any lowering of standards.
  • Improve the service: Enhance the overall ‘product’, thus benefiting existing users as well as attracting new custom, encouraging people to switch from road to rail.
  • Build-in sustainability: To put the line on a more sustainable footing, both operationally and environmentally, thus ensuring its long term survival and ‘value for money’ as a public transport facility.

The Abbey Line Community Rail Partnership, CRP, includes many different partners who are interested in the line of which AbFly is one and there are many others.  Although its aims sound similar (e.g. “the positive & imaginative development of the Abbey Line etc. ”), its objectives emphasise the bringing together of different stakeholders.

Aims of the Abbey Line Community Rail Partnership:

  • Secure the long term future for the Abbey Line
  • Help link the line more strongly with local communities
  • Promote and increase use of the Abbey Line
  • Deliver environmental benefits and integrate with other alternative modes of transport to reduce car usage
  • Contribute to the economic, social and environmental well being of local communities
  • Bringing people together such as volunteers and station adopters

The Rail Operator (currently London Northwestern Railway for the Abbey Line) is a train operating company (TOC) which operates passenger trains on the railway system.  The rail operator holds a franchises, let by the government, to operate services on certain routes for a specified duration.

Aims of the Rail Operator is to fulfil its obligation set out in its franchise, these include:

  • Provide a level of train service on the line, including staffing, station management, train cleaning etc
  • Operate stations and perform station upgrades
  • Improve the rolling stock by upgrading trains
  • Meet agreed performance targets
  • Meet passenger satisfaction targets
  • Provide agreed fares and ticketing improvements
  • Set timetables, fares & service levels (subject to regulatory approval)

This gets even more complicated when you start looking into how franchises are awarded and the details around this, more information can be found here.