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2003-04-10 SRA-001
Strategic Rail Authority


Go-Ahead and First to be invited to bid for Thames Trains franchise

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Go-Ahead Group

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Strategic Rail Authority

Go-Ahead and First to be invited to bid for Thames Trains franchise

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10 April 2003
source Strategic Rail Authority
type Press release

The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) has announced that it is inviting two
companies, Go-Ahead Group plc and FirstGroup plc, to bid for the Thames
Trains franchise between 2004 and 2006.

The companies will be asked to put forward proposals that improve
performance and could increase capacity. This process will allow the SRA to
select the best way forward for the Thames Trains franchise between 2004
and 2006, by when the SRA has stated its intention to create a new Greater
Western franchise.

Nick Newton, Managing Director, Operations for the SRA, said:
"This competitive process will allow us to choose a company that offers an
improved service for passengers in the Thames Trains area, and a good deal
for taxpayers."

Notes to Editors:

1. The SRA has been in discussions with Go-Ahead Group regarding a
two-year extension to its current franchise since Summer 2002. It
separately received an unsolicited proposition from FirstGroup to
combine Thames services with Great Western services from 2004.
2. The SRA expects to announce the winner of the competition this
3. The Greater Western franchise, announced on 6 November 2002
following extensive local consultation, will combine the existing Great
Western, Thames Trains and Wessex Trains franchises into one
operation. It is due to commence in early 2006 following a competition
to select a franchisee.
4. The current Thames Trains franchise expires on 31 March 2004. First's
Great Western franchise expires on 4 February 2006.

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