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Railhub Archive
2005-12-13 DfT-002
Department for Transport


Announcement of the winner of Greater Western franchise

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First Great Western

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Department for Transport

Announcement of the winner of Greater Western franchise

13 Dec 2005 00:00
source Department for Transport
type Press release

THE DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT today announced that First Group has been awarded the contract to run the Greater Western franchise from 01 April 2006.

The Greater Western franchise will include routes on the national rail network currently operated by First Great Western, First Great Western Link and Wessex Trains.

First Group has also committed to providing:

* The overnight sleeper between London and Penzance
* The London - Cardiff off-peak half-hourly service
* The current level of off-peak mainline stops at Slough * 6 trains per weekday on the OXford-Bicester line, with realistically timed peak hour services
* Faster London - Cheltenham journey times
* The same number of off-peak Didcot calls as now
* A direct daily Frome-London return service

Over 200m of investment will be made in the early years of the franchise. This will contribute towards:

* A complete redesign of the high speed fleet. This, together with the new timetable will increase capacity on trains between London and Reading in the morning and evening peak periods by more than 20% and 30% respectively.

* A programme of station improvements, including better customer information systems, better passenger security through the installation of CCTV and 1700 new car parking spaces at stations.

* Major investment to improve stations at Bath Spa, Bristol Temple Meads, Burnham, Cheltenham Spa, Chippenham, Didcot Parkway, Ealing Broadway, Exeter Central, Exeter St Davids, Gloucester, Hayes & Harlington, Hungerford, Maidenhead, Newbury, North Camp, Oxford, Plymouth, Reading, Slough, Southall, Swindon, Taunton, Tiverton Parkway, Trowbridge, Truro, Twyford, Weston-super-Mare and Westbury.

* A committed annual budget for Community Rail. First Group has also agreed to liaise and co-operate with Community Rail partners to develop and promote partnerships

* Automatic ticket gates and more revenue protection staff and community support officers in place at key stations for additional passenger security and to crack down on fare evasion.

* Track improvements on some of the lines between Reading and London to enable faster journeys

* Double the number of services to London Paddington from Paignton, offering more fast journeys between Torbay and London.

* Improved performance and reliability so that 9 out of 10 trains run on time by 2011/12.

Many of these changes address specific issues raised during the consultation which took place this summer.

First Group is also committed to working with Network Rail and Reading Borough Council to investigate the scope for improvements to capacity at Reading station.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling said:

"This award will deliver improvements in the service to passengers as well as a good deal for the taxpayer. It will increase capacity into London during peak times, refurbish carriages, improve reliability and provide investment in stations make them more attractive and secure.

"This will raise the quality of passenger journeys and ensure that services and facilities are in place where they are most needed - now and in the future."

The franchise contract is for ten years with the final three years dependent on service performance achieving preset targets.

Notes to Editors

1. The Greater Western franchise brings together three existing franchises into one. This decision was announced by the SRA in November 2002 following a formal consultation exercise.

2. The three parties invited to bid for GW were First Group, National Express Group and Stagecoach Group

3. The London-Penzance overnight service is retained with sleeping cars and will continue to call at Plymouth in both directions, but will be simplified at Plymouth where the dedicated sleeping coach will no longer be detached.

4. A year round London to Newquay service will not be possible whilst substantial maintenance work is taking place to the branch line. It is hoped this could be introduced on completion of the works. In the interim, Newquay will continue to be served four times a day outside the summer peak, and a daily London Newquay service will run in July and August 2007.

5. First Group has undertaken to pay DfT a premium of 1,131m over 10 years.

6. First Group has also been awarded the Thameslink/GN franchise today, which will commence on 01 April 2006.

7. Peak times referred to span 07.30 - 09.30 arrivals in London and 16.30 and 20.30 departures

8. Documents relating to the Greater Western franchise are on the dft website

Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website:

Railhub Archive ::: 2005-12-13 DfT-002


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