Greater Manchester Franchising Awards
22 December 2022
Following today’s announcement, Diamond Bus North West are pleased to announce that it has been selected to operate 7 of the 11 franchises issued by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) in the north western part of Greater Manchester.
Following three years of dedicated investment in our Bolton depot and Greater Manchester fleet, we are disappointed that we haven’t won a large franchise opportunity in this first tranche of the franchising scheme. Having recently won Bolton Large Business of the Year and numerous awards at the 2022 UK Bus Awards, we had hoped this would have been the beginning of our journey to a successful operating partnership as a large franchise operator in the region. We feel our bid provided a strong, viable proposal, which included the provision of new modern and environmentally friendly vehicles for the people of Greater Manchester. Although we are disappointed, we respect the decision of TfGM/GMCA and will work closely with them to ensure a smooth transition to the new franchisee who will commence operation in September 2023.
Under the Franchise framework, some of our employees will be subject to a TUPE process, but we are hopeful that we can retain as many as practically possible to continue our small franchise work which will operate from our depot based in Eccles. Additionally it is anticipated that those in regional group roles will be retained to support the smaller North West and Preston Bus businesses.
The depot in Eccles is to be relocated to a brand new, purpose built state of the art site nearby. The new depot will have capacity for over 100 vehicles. Due to the length of time in purchasing a site, obtaining planning permission and constructing the facility, additional parking, office and workshop capacity has been secured in the vicinity of our current site on an interim basis to enable the successful operation of the new franchises from September 2023. Furthermore, over 60 brand new double and single deck vehicles will be delivered over the summer, for use on the new franchises.
Rotala has agreed in principle to sell the Bolton bus depot to the GMCA. In the interim period from completion of sale to GMCA and the commencement of the new successful franchise winner, Diamond will continue to operate from the Bolton depot in order to carry out all the bus services currently run from that depot.
Diamond Bus North West intends, in September 2023 to dispose of the majority of the bus fleet currently based at the Bolton depot by placing these vehicles into the notional asset pool, from which GMCA will allocate vehicles to the new franchises. The incoming franchise operator will then purchase the vehicles allocated by the GMCA from Diamond Bus North West .
Diamond North West has been successful in the pre-qualification stages for participation in two further franchise rounds in the GMCA region. The second tranche of franchise awards is expected to be released later in 2023, and we look forward to a positive outcome from these.