FirstGroup has issued a statement in response to the Department for Transport's decision to withdraw its bidding competition for the Great Western rail franchise, which it currently holds.
It says the franchise to run services to and from the west country will be extended to the end of October.
First is also in discussions to continue the franchise for a further two years after October. It says this will enable :
- Continuity of service
- Continued improvements for passengers in this longer period
- Major network improvements, including electrification and the introduction of new rolling stock associated with the project
- Significant upgrade work to the line, stations and signalling
– Tim O’Toole, Chief Executive, FirstGroup
“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 to deliver the much needed new capacity as efficiently and effectively as possible.”