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First Group keeps hold of Great Western Rail Service

First Group will keep the franchise for a further three years. Credit: Fiona Hanson/PA Archive

First Group, which runs the Great Western Rail Service, will keep the franchise for a further three years.

The new timetable for rail franchise bids was announced by the Transport Secretary this morning.

First Group was due to bid again this October for the service operating trains from the West Country to London Paddington. This has now been delayed and they won't have to bid again until July 2016.

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Passengers unhappy at rail fare hikes

Commuters returning to work after the Christmas break are facing big rail fare increases. Season ticket holders are worst affected - paying 4 percent more to travel. Train companies say it's necessary to fund improvements.

But campaign groups say it's the 10th successive above-inflation rise in the last decade, and that passengers still face long delays and overcrowding.

Rail fare hikes come into effect

Tickets are going up by an average of 3.9% Credit: PA

The mid-winter will be bleaker for millions of rail travellers today as inflation-busting fare rises take effect.

Fares are increasing by an average of 3.9%.

The rise follows a miserable few weeks for many commuters in the South West who have had to contend with long delays caused by flooding and signal failures.

Last week, over-running engineering work led to serious over-crowding on some trains.

Rail fare hikes come into effect

Tickets are going up by an average of 3.9% Credit: PA

The mid-winter will be bleaker for millions of rail travellers today as inflation-busting fare rises take effect.

Fares are increasing by an average of 3.9%.

The rise follows a miserable few weeks for many commuters in the Westcountry who have had to contend with long delays caused by flooding and signal failures.

Last week, over-running engineering work led to serious over-crowding on some trains.

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Transport key for economic growth

A report presented to the West of England Joint Transport ExecutiveCommittee today has found that a range of planned transport schemes for the West of England are critical to its future economic growth.

Produced by independent consultants Atkins, ‘Unlocking our Potential: The Economic Benefits of Transport Investment in the West of England’ looks at how the schemes would support economic growth and job creation, impact on Gross ValueAdded (GVA) and the return on the capital investment.

Our report shows that investment in these schemes will play acritical role in unlocking new growth and creating jobs in the West ofEngland.“We interviewed businesses, property agents and representative organisations to explore the impacts of the transport schemes on the West of England. One business told us that if these schemes do not go ahead there will be real limitations on businesses’ ability togrow.”

– Jonathan Foster-Clark, Atkins

The report also says the transport schemes would effectively unlock almost 19,000 jobs across seven key growth areas. The three rapid transit schemes, alongside the Bath Transportation Package and the Weston Package, are estimated to unlock a £600 million increase in future economic output.

New routes expected to attract 20,000 new passengers

New routes from Newquay to London Southend and Liverpool's John Lennon Airport have been announced by easyJet.

The airline will operate six services per week to Liverpool and London Southend starting in June 2013 and tickets are now on sale.

The new routes are expected to attract around 20,000 passengers to and from Cornwall.

Today’s announcement that easyJet will be operating fromNewquay Cornwall Airport is great news for local residents, Cornish businesses andholidaymakers. These new routes will make accessibility to and from Cornwall easierthan ever and open up new areas for travellers. This not only gives local businessesthe opportunity to attract new visitors and drive additional revenue during thesummer months but will also help people within the region to visit friends and familyout of the county more conveniently

– Cllr Stephen Rushworth, Cornwall Council

Airport welcomes new routes

Following the news that easyJet will begin operating new routes from Liverpool and London Southend to Newquay, Al Titterington, Managing Director of the airport commented:

This is fantastic news for the airport and Cornwall to attract an airline of easyJetstature. The North West and London areas are key business and tourism marketsand the addition of Liverpool and London Southend will compliment our routenetwork. We have been in discussions with easyJet for a number of months and we arelooking forward to working with them in developing services to and from Cornwall.Discussions are ongoing for new easyJet destinations to Europe and in particular tothe Mediterranean being introduced in 2014

– Al Titterington, Managing Director of the airport
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