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
The Department for Transport has scrapped plans for a bidding competition for the franchise to run Great Western rail services.
It was put on hold last October after the fiasco over the West Coast Main Line franchise.
Current operator First Great Western has had its contract extended until October and negotiations will start on a new two-year contract with the company, while plans for the longer term will be set out in the spring.