Sunday 26 June 2022

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The Department for Transport has decided to abandon the franchising system in England.

The franchise on this page ceased to exist on normal commercial terms on 23 March 2020, and was replaced by an Emergency Measures Agreement, which guaranteed an income to operators and removed commercial risk.

From 20 September 2020 until some time in 2022 Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements (ERMAs) replaced the original EMAs, slightly reducing the fixed fees paid to operators but otherwise continuing the protection from commercial risk.

Replacement contracts of a new type may be announced later on.

(In the case of Scottish franchises, the Scottish Government announced on 18 September an extension of its EMAs from 20 September 2020 to January 2021, pending further discussions.)

Great Western Railway

The direct successor of First Great Western, under the same owner, with an original termination date of April 2019 plus a possible extension of 13 railway periods (52 weeks) at the discretion of the DfT, confirmed by the DfT on 23 March 2015. The contract began in September 2015 and ran until 1 April 2020.

On 30 March 2020 the DfT announced a Direct Award which will run until at least 31 March/1 April 2023, with a possible one-year extension. The first six months (minimum) was to be a management contract, with the removal of commercial risk and a fee to FirstGroup.

A further announcement from FirstGroup on 1 September 2020 said that the Emergency Measures Agreement for Great Western Railway would be extended until at least 26 June 2021. (EMAs became Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements later in September 2020.)

Before the end of the ERMA in June 2021, the DfT has an option to extend it further.

FirstGroup said GWR also has the right to revert to operating with revenue risk but with protection provided through the Forecast Revenue Mechanism until at least 2023.

start date
20 September 2015
end date
March 2023

owned by
GB Railways Group plc/FirstGroup plc

legal title
First Greater Western Limited

service area
Intercity, outer suburban and regional services. London PaddingtonBristolWeston-super-Mare/WestburyExeterPaignton/PlymouthPenzance/Newquay, CardiffSwanseaCarmarthen, SwindonCheltenham Spa/WorcesterGreat Malvern, BristolWeymouth/Portsmouth/Brighton, ReadingBasingstokeGatwick Airport; branch lines to St Ives, Falmouth Docks, Newquay, Looe, Gunnislake, Barnstaple, Exmouth, Severn Beach, Henley-on-Thames, Marlow, Windsor & Eton Central, Greenford

First Great Western

to be replaced by
Great Western


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