Latest Rail News

20.09.13

Concerns over FGW franchise extension

The leader of Plymouth City Council has complained to the transport secretary about an expected two-year extension of First Great Western’s franchise. 

He said it would delay improvements and disincentivise the operator from bothering to invest in infrastructure and quality. 

Tudor Evans said: “It is my concern that such a short-term franchise being put in place, as a result of the Government's decision to stop the franchise process, that the urgently-needed improvements to Plymouth's rail services will not be delivered.” 

The new GWML franchise was originally meant to have come in earlier this year, but the West Coast debacle and subsequent Laidlaw and Brown reviews threw the timetable out. The current franchise will end on October 12, but it is expected to be extended for 33 months, unless state-owned Directly Operated Railways takes it on. 

Tim Jones, from the Devon and Somerset Local Enterprise Partnership, was quoted by the BBC as saying: “We understand that the Government is about to award FirstGroup an extension to their existing contract on what is described as a 'vanilla package', which means that there will be no new investment...which is incredibly disappointing.” 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@railtechnologymagazine.com 

(Image: FirstGroup)

Comments

Nonsuchmike   22/09/2013 at 15:33

Let DOR take it on. They have done marvels for quality and profitability on the East Coast (if not for punctuality) with extremely limited resources. Maybe the service could be extended and improved by them as well, which is what Plymouth and the west country deserves but rarely gets.

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