Latest Rail News

20.07.12

Tendering delays could signal FirstGroup extension

FirstGroup could be handed an extension to the Great Western rail franchise, with subsidies from the Government, due to delays in the tendering process.

The next franchise is due to begin on 1 April 2013, after the company exercised a break clause to withdraw from the last three years of the contract, avoiding an £826m payout.

But reports suggest that government delays in issuing tender documents mean this date is likely to be put back to the summer. The bidding process between FirstGroup, Arriva, National Express and Stagecoach was originally meant to start this May.

In the meantime, FirstGroup may be asked to continue to operate trains, and is likely to receive subsidies during this time, the Guardian reported.

FirstGroup has not been officially informed whether they would still be running services beyond April, but the DfT has refused to confirm the start date of the next franchise.

The shadow transport secretary, Maria Eagle, called for the Government to explain how much the delays would cost. She said: “The Government's rail strategy is descending into chaos and confusion with Great Western being just the latest franchise no longer to be on track.

“With FirstGroup reportedly avoiding £800m in payments back to taxpayers by initially refusing to extend this franchise, ministers must also explain whether we will now see any of this money being paid or if this extension will yet again leave taxpayers out of pocket.”

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

Image c. FirstGroup

Comments

Keith   24/07/2012 at 15:19

You can't blame any franchise holder for working the system but until whatever government sorts out the whole franchise/privatisation saga, it will continue. All the same, I would prefer to see First Group retain the Great Western operation.

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