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2000-03-14 SRA-001
Shadow Strategic Rail Authority

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Six companies shortlisted for first franchise replacement round


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Shadow Strategic Rail Authority

Six companies shortlisted for first franchise replacement round
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2000-03-14 Passengers will be the winners from franchise announcement (ATOC)

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date
14 March 2000
source Shadow Strategic Rail Authority
type Press release



Details of the parties that have been selected for the first phase of franchise replacement negotiations for the GNER, Chiltern and Connex South Central franchises were announced by SSRA Chief Executive Mike Grant today.

Two parties are to go forward for negotiations for each franchise. The companies selected for negotiation are as follows:

GNER:
Sea Containers (incumbent owner of Great North Eastern Railway)
Virgin Rail Group in conjunction with Stagecoach
Chiltern:
M40 Trains (incumbent owner of Chiltern Railways - subsidiary of Laing
Group)
Go-Ahead (franchisee of Thames Trains)
Connex South Central:
Connex Rail (incumbent owner of Connex South Central - subsidiary of
Vivendi SA)
GoVia (franchisee of Thameslink)

On the South Central franchise, SSRA is looking for evidence that the
operators are committed to a radical improvement in service quality. In
particular, SSRA will be looking for early achievement of higher performance
standards, including cleanliness and provision of information. Proposals in
these areas will need to be far more ambitious than the ideas outlined so far.
We appreciate that passengers will be looking for the signs that potential
operators are serious about making improvements.

Negotiations for both South Central and Chiltern are expected to last several
weeks, with a view to replacement franchises being determined in late spring
and becoming effective in the second half of the year.

On the GNER franchise, the proposals are associated with extensive upgrade
of the East Coast Main Line, so the decision process will take longer. With the
Virgin & Stagecoach proposal, SSRA will need additionally to be convinced
that it is in the interests of passengers that the two major London to Scotland
franchises should be in the hands of a single owner.

SSRA Chief Executive, Mike Grant, said:
"After careful consideration of the merits of the various proposals, we have
selected which companies' proposals we wish to take forward for negotiation.
"The negotiation process will now start in earnest to decide the future owner
and duration of these three franchises. Throughout the process, we will be
aiming to ensure the best possible deal for the passenger in the final
outcomes, with strong commitments to investment and improved customer
service, along with value for the taxpayer."

Notes to Editors
1. The pre-qualified parties who were unsuccessful in moving forward to the
negotiation stage for round one are Arriva (for the Chiltern franchise) and
Stagecoach (for the Connex South Central franchise).
2. On March 8, the SSRA invited companies to pre-qualify for the three
franchises which would form the second round of franchise replacement
(franchise propositions based on the existing Central Trains franchise, and the
South West Trains franchise and a new franchise proposition, Transpennine
Express, which forms part of the franchise currently operated by Northern
Spirit Ltd). It also announced the setting up of a feasibility study into the
possibility of a dedicated 'Wales Rail' franchise.


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