Rail passengers could face higher fares and worse service following the decision to award the South West Trains rail franchise to First Group. That is the warning coming from the competition watchdog.
Concerns have been raised by the Competition and Markets Authority about the London to Exeter route as First Group already operates Great Western Railway, which runs the only other train service between the cities.
The South West Trains franchise is currently operated by Stagecoach but will be taken over by First Group, in partnership with Hong Kong-based company MTR, on August 20.
The firms involved have five working days to offer proposals to address the competition concerns.
If these are deemed insufficient the Competition and Markets Authority can open an in-depth investigation.