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2008-02-26 DfT-001
Department for Transport

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Improving performance on First Great Western


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Department for Transport

Improving performance on First Great Western
_______________________________________________________________


date
26 Feb 2008 07:39
source Department for Transport
type Press release

note DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT News Release (NR 032) issued by The Government News Network on 26 February 2008


Stock market/Press statement

The Transport Secretary, Ruth Kelly, has today announced measures to address unacceptably high levels of train cancellations on the First Great Western franchise.

First Great Western is being issued with a Remedial Plan Notice for exceeding the threshold on cancellations in the second half of last year.

The Remedial Plan sets out a plan for reducing cancellations. This includes milestones which the Department for Transport will monitor and review. It also outlines additional rolling stock and employment of more drivers, guards and technicians to secure a more reliable service and drastically reduce the number of cancellations.

The company is also being issued with a Breach Notice for misreporting its cancellations. This stipulates the steps First Great Western must take to rectify the problem.

In addition a £29m package of passenger benefits, fully funded by First Great Western, has been agreed. This will address areas of passenger concern and tackle the high level of train cancellations. These include:

* Passenger compensation - as previously announced, between January 2008 and January 2009 First Great Western will double its compensation rates under the passenger charter. This will benefit any passengers who suffer disruption as well as season ticket holders who renew their tickets. These are the customers who have been most affected by the unacceptable performance. From January 2009 to January 2010 there will be a fifty per cent increase in compensation rates.

* Fares offers - an additional 500,000 of the cheapest off-peak tickets will be made available for a selection of First Great Western's most popular destinations. Fares offers will commence from 1 April of this year until 31 March 2009.

* Additional trains on the Cardiff-Portsmouth route - from summer 2008 until summer 2011 every through train will have an additional carriage to provide extra capacity. This will increase trains from 2 carriages to 3, an aggregate increase of 40% capacity. This will mitigate the crowding on one of First Great Western's most popular routes, which runs through Bristol.

* Upgrade of station customer information systems - new and additional high quality information equipment will be installed at more stations. This will include additional modern monitors. This will finish by end of December 2010.

* Accelerating the refurbishment of Thames Valley commuter trains - First Great Western will refurbish these trains earlier than contracted and will spend double the previously agreed amount. Refurbishment of Thames Valley commuter trains will commence this year and will be completed by 2011. Refurbishment will include the modernisation of carriage interiors to a far higher standard than originally planned. Lines to benefit will include London to Reading, Oxford, Newbury and Reading to Gatwick.

Failure to deliver these new commitments would be a default of the franchise agreement which could lead to the Government terminating First Great Western's franchise.

Ruth Kelly said:

"The performance of First Great Western has fallen persistently short of customers' expectations and has been unacceptable to both passengers and Government.

"The £29m package of benefits agreed with First Great Western will make a real difference to passengers. It includes over 500,000 cheaper tickets on the busiest routes, extra carriages between Cardiff and Portsmouth and vastly increases investment in the refurbishment of Thames Valley commuter trains.

"The measures I have announced today will lead to a reduction in train cancellations and also provide a substantial package of benefits to First Great Western's customers."

ENDS

Notes to editors:

1. A Remedial Plan is a function of an operator's Franchise Agreement.

2. The Breach Notice has been issued under Section 55 of the Railways Act.

3. More information on the First Great Western franchise is available on the DfT website http://www.dft.gov.uk


Railhub Archive ::: 2008-02-26 DfT-001





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