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.
People from Plymouth's business community have been telling companies bidding to run the new rail franchise to London what they want from the service.
The city's chamber of commerce says improving rail services to the South West could boost the city's economy by 94 million pounds.
Businesses from the South West are currently meeting with 3 of the 4 companies bidding for the new Great Western Rail franchise.
Those bidding include First, National Expres and german rail operator DB.
People from Plymouth's business community will get a chance to question three of the four companies bidding to run the new Great Western rail franchise.
The city's chamber of commerce wants the winner of the 15 year franchise to improve the service in the South West to help economic growth.