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1998-03-06 OPR-001


£75million of additional passenger benefits agreed with FirstGroup plc

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£75million of additional passenger benefits agreed with FirstGroup plc

15 March 2022

Northern Northern Operator of Last Resort vandalism

6 March 1998
source OPRAF
type Press release

The Franchising Director John O'Brien today announced that he had secured an estimated £75million package of passenger benefits and investments covering the Great Western, North Western Trains and Great Eastern Railways franchises.

This follows today's offer by FirstGroup PLC to buy out other shareholders of Great Western Holdings Ltd (GWHL).

The improvements OPRAF has agreed with FirstGroup include:

Great Western

An order will be placed for 32 new vehicles, to be delivered and in service by 30 June 2002, to provide additional rolling stock in order to increase capacity (likely cost in the order of £32million).

A week's free travel for all season ticket holders (monthly and longer term) who currently hold such tickets.

The introduction o f a performance regime under which the operator will pay financial penalties of: £250 in the event of a train being 20 minutes late; £500 if 30 minutes late or partially cancelled; £1,000 if cancelled altogether.

Bus/rail through ticketing will be introduced additionally serving Newport, Bridgend, Port Talbot, Neath, Chippenham, Weston Super Mare, Trowbridge, Frome and Shepton Mallet.

First Class lounges will be provided at Bristol Temple Meads and Swindon by 31 March 2000.

The Great Western Trains sleeper fleet (14 vehicles) will be fully refurbished by 31 March 2000.

North Western Trains

£1million will be made available to be spent on additional passenger benefits as agreed with the local Passenger Transport Executives, passengers' representatives and other interested bodies.

On the 70 new vehicles to be provided under the franchise plan, CCTV cameras will be fitted to the interior, and forward facing security cameras will be fitted to the fronts of trains.

Video recording will be of prosecution standard.

£100,000 in total will be spent on providing wheelchair access at core stations by the time that the new trains are introduced.

Great Eastern

All 96 slam door vehicles to be phased out of service by no later than 31 December 2002 and replaced by modern high quality rolling stock (estimated cost in the order of £35million).

Additional bus/rail through ticketing to be introduced serving all main rail head stations.

Modern rolling stock to be introduced on the Marks Tey to Sudbury Branch by no later than October 1998.

Across all three franchises

All three franchise operators will commit to an annual review of their Passenger's Charters.

The purchase of tickets will be made available on the Internet, first in North Western Trains as an experiment and then, if successful, rolled out across the other franchises.

£50,000 in total to be spent by 31 March 1999 to improve bicycle facilities at stations across the three franchises.

Any change of control of a franchised passenger operator requires the approval of the Franchising Director.

He makes his decisions in the light of the Objectives, Instructions and Guidance issued by the Secretary of State last November, which require him to put the interests of passengers first.

Mr O'Brien said today: "There are benefits for passengers on all three franchises as a result of this deal. In particular, I have been concerned about the performance of Great Western Trains, where punctuality has been poor. I have therefore made it a condition of today's deal that a performance regime, whereby the operator will be penalised financially for poor service, should form a key element of the package.

"Combined with the other improvements to which FirstGroup have committed themselves, I consider that this deal is in the best interests of passengers across all three franchises.

OPRAF will therefore be working with FirstGroup to finalise the legal agreements that will give effect to these commitments and enable me to approve the change of control .

" Notes to Editors.


Once legal documents are completed they will be placed on the Franchising Director's public register in the normal way.

2. The Great Western franchise was awarded to GWHL in December 1995.

It was for ten years, conditional on an increased service pattern being committed to within the first two years of the franchise; otherwise it would revert to seven years.

The total subsidy for the ten year franchise was £438million; the subsidy for seven years would have been £348million.

In August 1997 OPRAF confirmed the franchise at ten years.

At this point the Franchising Director negotiated a reduction in the total subsidy of £93million, so that the total subsidy for ten years became £345million (i.e. the same figure as for seven years under the original deal).

Additional rolling stock commitments were also negotiated - see OPRAF briefing note of 10 October 1997.

3. The North Western Trains franchise was awarded to GWHL on 5 February 1997.

The franchise was for seven years and one month.

4. The Great Eastern Railways franchise was awarded to FirstGroup PLC on 4 December 1996.

The franchise was for seven years and three months.

Railhub Archive ::: 1998-03-06 OPR-001


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