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2014-05-23 FIR-001
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Thameslink Southern and Great Northern Rail franchise announcement


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Great Northern
Southern
Thameslink
franchises
franchising
*FCC
*GTR
*SOU



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FirstGroup

Thameslink Southern and Great Northern Rail franchise announcement
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2014-05-23 New rail franchising deal set to transform passenger services across London and south east (Department for Transport)

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date
23 May 2014
source FirstGroup
type Press release



In response to the announcement by the Department for Transport today, FirstGroup is disappointed that it has been unsuccessful in its bid for the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern rail franchise.
FirstGroup has operated the First Capital Connect franchise, on the Thameslink and Great Northern sections of the route, since 2006 and during that time has:

- been a key partner in delivering the £6.5bn Thameslink Programme, along with Network Rail and other industry partners. Milestones achieved include the first 12-carriage trains to operate on the route, the extension of Blackfriars platforms across the Thames, redevelopment of Farringdon station and extension of platforms across the network.

- increased passenger volumes to 118m in 2013/14, a 37% increase from 86m a year when the current franchise began.

- introduced 144 new vehicles onto the Thameslink route delivering an extra 14,500 seats at the busiest times of the day, and doubled the number of cross-London rush hour trains from 7/8 per hour to 15 trains per hour between St. Pancras International and Blackfriars.

- introduced more than 12,500 extra seats at the busiest times of the day on Great Northern services, to increase peak time capacity by more than 22%.

- increased overall passenger satisfaction scores since the start of the franchise, including increased scores in the latest independent survey by Passenger Focus for areas including station upkeep and how well the company dealt with disruption.

- transformed communications with customers " including 24/7 Twitter service, free SMS and email feed alerts as well as a brand new website with mobile capability and real time feeds.

Commenting, Tim OToole, FirstGroups Chief Executive, said:

"I am disappointed that we will not be operating the new franchise and taking the Thameslink Programme on to its next stage. We submitted a strong bid which would have delivered high quality services for passengers, value for taxpayers and an economic return for shareholders. We are tremendously proud to have operated a significant part of this network over the past eight years through our First Capital Connect franchise, and of the many improvements we have delivered during that time. I would like to thank all of our employees who worked tirelessly to deliver improved services for our customers during a period of great change on the network.

"We shall continue to operate First Capital Connect until the new franchise begins on 14 September 2014, and during that time we look forward to continuing improvements to our trains, stations and customer service training. We shall work with the new operator as they prepare to take on these crucial responsibilities for the route.

"Todays news does not alter our stated medium term targets. Going forward the Group is currently shortlisted for a number of other rail franchises and will participate in a range of competitions with the objective of achieving earnings on a par with the last round of franchising, with an acceptable level of risk.'

Notes to Editors:
About FirstGroup plc
FirstGroup plc (LSE: FGP.L) is the leading transport operator in the UK and North America. With revenues of more than £6.7 billion and around 117,000 employees, we transport more than 2.5 billion passengers every year. Each of our five divisions is a leader in its field: First Student is the largest provider of student transportation in North America with a fleet of around 49,000 yellow school buses, First Transit is one of the largest providers of outsourced transit management and contracting services in the US, while Greyhound is the only national operator of scheduled intercity coach services across North America. In the UK, FirstGroup is one of Britain's largest bus operators running a fleet of some 6,400 buses, and we operate approximately a quarter of the UK passenger rail network, carrying more than 330 million passengers a year. Our vision is to provide solutions for an increasingly congested world, keeping people moving and communities prospering.

Visit our website at: www.firstgroup.com

Contacts at FirstGroup:
Rachael Borthwick, Group Corporate Communications Director
Faisal Tabbah, Group Investor Relations Manager
Stuart Butchers, Group Media Relations Manager
Tel: +44 20 7725 3354

Contacts at Brunswick PR:
Michael Harrison/Andrew Porter, Tel: +44 20 7404 5959


Railhub Archive ::: 2014-05-23 FIR-001





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