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January 30, 2013

UK Department for Transport cancels Great Western rail franchise competition

The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has cancelled the bidding for the Great Western rail franchise between south Wales and London after awarding current operator FirstGroup an extension to its contract by 28 weeks.

By admin-demo

First group-Great Western franchise

The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has cancelled the bidding for the Great Western rail franchise between south Wales and London after awarding current operator FirstGroup an extension to its contract by 28 weeks.

Negotiations with FirstGroup to extend the contract for a further two years beyond October 2013 will now commence; longer-term proposals will be explored in the spring of 2013.

The decision comes as part of a wide-ranging announcement from the DfT on the future of several key rail franchise competitions, many of which were suspended in the wake of the collapse of the West Coast Main Line competition.

According to DfT, the competition for the 15-year Essex Thameside franchise will resume, while the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise competitions will resume with the aim of issuing seven-year contracts.

"UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the plans mark an important step on the way to restarting the franchising programme."

UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the plans mark an important step on the way to restarting the franchising programme.

"We have had to take some tough decisions regarding franchising, and while they may provide a challenge in the short term, I believe the lessons we have learnt will help deliver a more robust system in the future, benefitting fare payers and taxpayers alike," McLoughlin said.

The DfT will now commence negotiations for new short-term franchises, while longer-term options can be explored, with existing operators First Great Western, First Capital Connect and c2c set to continue running their services.

DfT said its company Directly Operated Railways will be undertaking the minimum necessary preparations to take over services in case any negotiations fail.


Image: DfT will start negotiations with FirstGroup to extend the Great Western franchise contract for another two years beyond October 2013. Photo: courtesy of Vermatt.

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