Latest Rail News

31.01.13

Great Western line contract extension for FirstGroup

FirstGroup has been awarded an extension of its contract to run Great Western services, with the Government scrapping the bidding process for the franchise.

The competition for the line began last year, but was suspended in the autumn, following the West Coast Main Line fiasco. Once “serious errors” emerged, all other franchise competitions were paused while two reviews into the problems were carried out.

Other train companies shortlisted for the route were National Express, Stagecoach and Arriva.

FirstGroup’s contract will be extended for 28 weeks to ensure continuity of service and allow significant infrastructure upgrades to take place on the line, including new rolling stock and electrification.

FirstGroup’s chief executiveTim O'Toole said: “The extension of First Great Western and First Capital Connect provides continuity and consistency for our passengers and enables us to continue to deliver considerable improvements to services. At both these franchises everyone has worked tirelessly to enhance services and we have a record of successfully delivering major projects, working together with Government and our industry partners.

“We have also taken significant steps to tackle overcrowding, although there is still much to do on these routes which are among the most congested in the country. Today's announcement will also allow us to work closely with the DfT and our industry partners to deliver the much needed new capacity as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

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