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Rail franchises: First Group statement

First Group has responded to the Government's rail franchise announcement this morning

“The extension of First Great Western and First Capital Connect provides continuity and consistency for our passengers and enables us to continue to deliver considerable improvements. At both these franchises everyone has worked tirelessly to enhance services and we have a record of successfully delivering major projects.

“We have also taken significant steps to tackle overcrowding, although there is still much to do on these routes which are among the most congested in the country. Today’s announcement will also allow us to work closely with the DfT and our industry partners.”

– Tim O’Toole, Chief Executive, First Group

Transport Secretary's statement on rail franchises

The Transport Secretary has issued this statement following the Government's rail franchise announcement today:

These plans mark an important step on the way to restarting the franchising programme, and while I am determined this should happen as quickly as possible we do need time to get this right.

We have had to take some tough decisions regarding franchising, and while they may provide a challenge in the short term, I believe the lessons we have learnt will help deliver a more robust system in the future benefitting fare payers and taxpayers alike.

As always our priority is to ensure these changes will not impact on services or our commitment to improving the railways.

– Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin

Rail franchise announcement: more details

All change for the future of the South's rail services Credit: Press Association

Train companies in the south are to have franchises to run services extended by two years following the fiasco over West Coast, the Government has just announced.

Franchising decisions include:

  • The competition for the Essex Thameside franchise will be resumed with a revised invitation to tender for a 15-year franchise issued to existing short-listed bidders over the summer.

Negotiations will commence with current train operator c2c for an interim contract of up to 2 years.

  • The Great Western franchise competition will be terminated. The current franchise will now run until October after the department exercised its contractual right to extend the current contract with First Great Western by 28 weeks.

Negotiations for an additional two-year contract will commence with the operator, while longer-term proposals will be set out in the spring

  • The Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise competition will be resumed with the department working towards awarding a 7-year contract.

The current Thameslink/Great Northern franchise operated by First Capital Connect ends in September but allows for a 28-week extension, which the department intends to exercise.

Negotiations will commence for a further contract of up to 2 years as part of the finalisation of the wider franchise programme

In parallel with negotiations with existing operators to continue running their services, directly operated railways will also be undertaking the minimum necessary preparations to take over services in case terms cannot be agreed.

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