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Transport Secretary: New owners "great news for rail passengers"

Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport Credit: Library picture

The Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, has commented on today's announcement:

This is great news for rail passengers. FirstGroup and MTR will deliver the improvements that people tell us they want right across the South Western franchise area, from Southampton and Portsmouth, to Bristol and Exeter, to Reading, Windsor and London.

We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century and this franchise will deliver real changes for passengers, who can look forward to modern trains, faster journeys and a more reliable service.”

– Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport

Stagecoach 'disappointed' at losing SWT franchise

The Stagecoach Group has said it is 'disappointed' that it has been unsuccessful in its bid for the new South Western rail franchise.

The company lost the franchise, due to commence in summer 2017, to Great Western Railway's owner First Group.

The company has released the following statement:

We are proud to have operated the network under the South West Trains brand for more than 20 years and we are disappointed that we have been unsuccessful in our bid for the new franchise.

Over the past two decades, we have delivered real improvements for our customers right across the network. That success has been built on fantastic people, detailed knowledge of the business and strong relationships with our stakeholders and railway partners. But we have never thought our job was finished.

We believe we submitted a strong bid for the new South Western franchise. It offered a transformation in the travel experience for our customers, more investment to help the railway support the communities and economy of the south-west, as well as a substantial and deliverable financial benefit to taxpayers to help fund better public services.

We will be seeking detailed feedback from the Department for Transport on the various elements of our bid.

I would like to thank all of our employees and partners who have been involved in delivering our vision for the railway in the south-west over the past two decades as well as those who contributed to our strong bid for the new franchise. I know they share our disappointment in the result. Nevertheless, we will continue to work hard on our part to deliver a professional service and meet our obligations in the final months of our current franchise."

– Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive, Stagecoach Group


Council leader succumbs to injuries after car crash

Credit: West Berkshire council

The leader of West Berkshire Council, Roger Croft, has sadly died, six weeks after he was critically injured in a car crash in France.

The accident on February 13th claimed the life of his wife Zelda.

His friend and fellow Conservative, MP Richard Benyon wrote of his sadness at the news:

Tributes have ben paid to the 70 year old, who had been due to retire as Leader of the council in the next couple of years, to spend more time with his family.

Alok Sharma MP, Grizelda Croft, Councillor Roger Croft and Richard Benyon Credit: Richard Benyon

"Roger was a joy to work with - he was so very committed; determined and utterly unyielding in his desire to get the best for the people of West Berkshire.

"He managed to lead a large group of people with diverse opinions and different priorities and still remain popular with everyone."

– Newbury MP Richard Benyon
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