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Franchises Lost, Franchises Gained: Train Companies GNER, Virgin, Arriva
Written & published: January, July & August 2007
GNER: Great North Eastern Railway
On 15th December last year the government announced that it was stripping GNER of its franchise to run the east coast mainline railway route which goes from London to Edinburgh, the most valuable train franchise in the UK. Instead of operating the route until 2015, as originally agreed, GNER will be replaced in December 2007 (originally mid-2008).
GNER got off to a good start in 1996 when it first won the franchise: the chart for that moment (shown below) shows the Ascendant linked directly to the UK's Mercury in Sagittarius in the 3rd house, symbolising transport and journeys. Unfortunately, Neptune and Uranus in the 2nd house of finances and assets aren't so straight-forward: the price paid for the franchise was inflated beyond realism (Neptune).
In January 2002 when the franchise was extended transiting Pluto was exactly conjunct the franchise Ascendant, reflecting new life, but also survival issues. At the same time, transiting Neptune in the 2nd house was exactly square the 1996 Sun, showing the potential to lose one's way, to dissolve.
Over the next months transiting Pluto would come into orb of opposing the 1996 Venus, showing that a potential financial crisis needed to be dealt with head-on.
The latest franchise agreement came into operation in April 2005, with transiting Neptune in semisquare to original franchise chart's Saturn suggestive of an undermining process that washes away secure-footing. Neptune was slowly edging its way towards being within orb of its trine to the original franchise chart's Venus, indicating the potential for financial dissolution.
In December 2006 when GNER was stripped of the franchise the Neptune transit to Saturn was just passed exactitude. Transiting Pluto (life/death changes) was almost exactly trine the original franchise's Mars (survival) and quincunx its Mercury (transport, travel, journeys, trading). Most appropriately, transiting Saturn had been stationary in square to Mercury - hitting the buffers, no less, as the planet of limits and endings stopped moving as it aligned with the planet of movement.......
NB The date of Saturn's exact station was 6th December, although a fortnight either side of that date is when the cessation of motion is evident.
National Express East Coast
It's now been announced that National Express have been awarded the franchise that GNER have been running. The date of announcement was 14th August 2007, and the date it will be effective from is 9th December 2007. Here is the chart for the latter date:
There are clear links with UK's Mercury in Sagittarius in the 3rd house, befitting such a major and long transport route. On the day of announcement the Sun-Mercury conjunct was just separating from a trine with the UK's Mercury - in other words, the preparations for the announcement took place when the aspect was exact - and for the date when operations will begin the Sun will be conjunct the country's Mercury.
In fact, there will be a total of five planets in Sagittarius, clustered in the UK's 3rd house of networks, transport, and journeys. If the franchise comes into operation at midnight, these planets will cluster at the IC - the foundation - of the franchise chart. All of which is very apt for such a large and important transport operation.
Virgin Cross Country
On 10th July 2007 the news broke that Virgin Cross Country would be stripped of its franchise several years early, just like GNER. Virgin were originally to operate the cross country service until 2012, but their franchise has also hit the buffers, and been given to Arriva until 2015.
Virgin was awarded the franchise on 29th November 1996 and it took effect from 5th January 1997. Here is the chart for the latter date:
The transits for the announcement of the loss of the franchise show the Saturn-Neptune opposition linking closely with Virgin's Mercury. Interesting, this applies to both the 'franchise awarded' chart and the chart for when the franchise came into operation, which is the chart shown above.
In the former chart, Mercury is at 22 degrees 33 minutes of Sagittarius. In the latter it is at 7 degrees 50 minutes of Capricorn. The Saturn-Neptune opposition thus made a close sextile and trine to the former Mercury, and a close semisquare and sesquiquadrate to the latter Mercury: transport agreements hitting the buffers plus dissolution.
Arriva Cross Country
On the same date that the Virgin Cross Country news was announced, it was reported that Arriva Cross Country would be taking over the cross country franchise from 11th November 2007 until 2015.
Here is the chart for when the franchise will come into operation on 11th November:
From 2008 until 2010 Pluto will oppose Mercury in the chart for when the franchise was awarded. This is a time that will need to be handled with care if the franchise is to avoid being threatened during this time; there is the potential for renewal too, however. In 2011 Uranus will square the same Mercury, suggesting the potential for sudden changes of direction or renegotiation of terms. In the same year and afterwards Neptune will make a sesquiquadrate to the Sun, so dissolution is a possibility.
Looking at the above chart for when the franchise comes into operation, transiting Pluto will square Venus in 2008 to 2011, so major financial restructuring is very possible, and perhaps a cashflow issue lasting for a fairly long period of time. Uranus will then oppose Venus from 2011, suggesting financial turbulence and a continuation of the period of change.
Comparing the Arriva franchise chart with that of the UK, there is a double-aspect between Mercury and Uranus. Arriva's Uranus is in close square to the UK's Mercury, and the UK's Uranus is in close square to Arriva's Mercury. This could symbolise disruption and disorder, an inability - in fact an almost perverse unwillingness - to run to a standard timetable, constantly changing agreements, policies and announcements, or radical innovative ideas that shake up the travel experience and open up new alternatives that make the train network more ideal. Let's hope it's used creatively to that end.
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