First Group get the GW Franchise

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joeholmes

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OMG, Brilliant... we got it!! Yepeeee

Statement Re: Award of The Greater Western & Thameslink/Great Northern Franchises

13/12/2005

FIRSTGROUP PLC
(‘First’ or ‘The Group’)


FirstGroup plc, the UK’s largest surface transport company, today welcomed the announcement by the Department for Transport (DfT) to award both the Greater Western and Thameslink/Great Northern franchises to the Group. These new franchises, worth over £1 billion in revenue per annum, will commence operation on 1 April 2006.

Commenting on the two franchise awards, Moir Lockhead, Group Chief Executive said: “We are delighted to be awarded both of these franchises and look forward to delivering the improved performance, capacity, facilities and customer benefits proposed in our winning bids. We are now the UK’s largest rail operator and will carry more than 260 million passengers per annum”.

Details of the two new franchise awards are as follows:

Greater Western Franchise

The new Greater Western franchise, which combines First Great Western, First Great Western Link and Wessex Trains, will commence on 1 April 2006 and run for seven years with a potential extension for three further years.

The new franchise will generate £1 billion in premium payments to DfT over the full 10 year period.

Commenting, Moir Lockhead, Chief Executive, FirstGroup plc said:

“We are delighted to be awarded the contract to run the enlarged Greater Western franchise. We consulted widely with stakeholders across the franchise area and submitted a robust and innovative bid. We are proud to serve customers across the new enlarged franchise area and look forward to building on our strong record of service delivery and investment.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the many stakeholders who supported our bid and, not least, our staff who have worked hard to achieve this result and continually strive to provide exceptional customer service for passengers throughout the Greater Western region.

We have the experience, drive and proven track record to transform travel for the Greater Western region, setting a new standard for customer service. Our priority now is to ensure a smooth integration of the three companies in April next year; a new Timetable in December 2006; and the early delivery of enhancements in services for passengers.

The key highlights of the new franchise include:

· A programme of continuous improvement and investment bringing a wide range of customer benefits, increased capacity, safety and service. In addition we will focus on tackling deep-rooted performance issues on the Greater Western network.

· The creation of a new family of brands for the franchise: First Great Western Express - high speed intercity services, First Great Western Link – suburban services out of London Paddington and First Great Western Local – regional services (mainly former Wessex Trains services)

· Investment of c.£200m in the franchise including:

Significant investment in the train fleet, the vast majority of which will take place in the first two years. The interiors of First Great Western’s High Speed Trains (HST) fleet will be totally redesigned providing a step change in passenger comfort and facilities together with increased capacity. The first set of redesigned carriages will be delivered in the first six months of the new franchise. Simultaneously the power cars will be overhauled and fitted with new quieter and more environmentally friendly engines which will provide greater efficiency and reliability

We will work with the DfT to introduce HST2, a replacement fleet of high speed trains, in accordance with the DfT led plans to provide a new generation of trains for the franchise.

Local and Link fleets will go through a programme of improvements and interior uplifts throughout the franchise term – including installation of CCTV cameras to enhance passenger security.

An investment in station enhancements, occurring in the early years of the franchise, including new ticket machine technology and upgrades to passenger facilities such as waiting rooms, toilet facilities and ticket offices at stations.

An additional 1700 car parking spaces. In addition we will provide cycle parking facilities at every station.

Enhancements to station and car park security with new and upgraded CCTV and CIS and Help Points installed at stations across the network. We will also increase the number of stations we operate in the Secure Stations Scheme.

Introduction of new automatic gates at Plymouth, Exeter St Davids, Bath Spa, Swindon and platforms 9-14 at London Paddington.

New ticket issuing technology and IT support to radically improve the service to our customers

Restaurant services retained and an increase in at-seat catering offered to passengers.

The installation of air conditioning to the driver cabs of our Turbo class 16X fleet.

Retention of overnight sleeper services between London Paddington and Plymouth/Penzance.

All day half hourly services between Paddington, Bristol and Cardiff maintained.

A more than 20% morning peak increase in seats between Reading and London and more than 30% in the evening peak through investments in the fleet, more rolling stock and improved timetabling.

Retention of fast off-peak services for Slough.

Additional enhancements to the timetable including:
- additional morning and evening peak services at Twyford, Maidenhead and Slough
- additional peak stopping trains between Paddington and Slough running every 30 minutes
- New cross Bristol services with through trains between Worcester and Taunton, Cardiff to Westbury/Southampton/Weymouth and Weston-super-Mare and Filton
- regular hourly service between Westbury and London Paddington
- regular hourly services at Taunton and Newton Abbot with some faster journey times
- Reading/Gatwick service increased from hourly to half-hourly off peak
- faster journey times between Cheltenham and London
- better main line connections with trains on the Cornwall branches

· As part of our commitment to work with Network Rail to deliver 90% PPM by 2011/12 we will work together closely in a new fully integrated control centre.

· Network Rail has an agreed programme of investment in the infrastructure across the network through a programme of renewals and upgrades. We will support them in managing this and is also committing to invest a further £12m in Depots and Wash Plants and the upgrade of the line between Reading and London in order to improve the line speed creating greater capacity, reliability and improved journey times.

· A new management structure with the appointment of 4 regional directors to provide a stronger local focus.

· A significant investment into a range of staff training and development activities focusing on the principles of customer service excellence.

· Improved connections; greater emphasis on integrated travel; and improved marketing to grow the business – particularly encouraging a switch from the car.

Thameslink/Great Northern Franchise

The new franchise, to be renamed First Capital Connect, will bring together two key franchises operating across London and the South East.

The franchise will run for up to nine years, depending upon performance targets and implementation of the anticipated Thameslink Programme. (It has a performance-related break clause after 4 years, and is extendable, at the DfT’s discretion, to a total of between 6 and 9 years).

First will invest more than £52 million, the majority in the first three years, to boost passenger service quality. Root and branch reforms will be driven by a new customer service director who will focus on raising both station and on board train performance and standards.

Changes will include cleaner, smarter trains and stations, better ticketing facilities, customer friendly staff and better security combined with more reliable and punctual services.

First will pay £808 million in premium payments to the Government over the nine year term.

Commenting, Moir Lockhead, Chief Executive, FirstGroup plc said:

“We are delighted to be awarded the contract to run the Thameslink/GN franchise. We are passionate about delivering quality services to customers and are excited about the opportunity to improve the current service.

We consulted widely with stakeholders in the region and submitted a robust and customer-focussed bid. Our priority now is to ensure a smooth start up in April next year and the early delivery of enhancements in services for customers.”

Key features of the new franchise are:

· A focus on reducing delays resulting in continually improving performance
· A more secure travelling environment through a wide range of security enhancements including additional CCTV cameras, help points and investment in a team of 24 dedicated Police Community Support Officers and five additional British Transport Police Officers
· An investment programme of £52m mainly targeted at:

Station improvements, including upgraded waiting facilities and toilets and enhanced passenger information systems

Improving car parks across the franchise with upgraded facilities, additional CCTV, information points and security with a commitment to improve Park Mark Safer Parking accreditation and creating 600 additional spaces

Rolling stock enhancements to improve reliability and the customer environment including upgrading the interiors of the Thameslink fleet

Automatic ticket gates at 11 stations to improve security, reduce ticketless travel and cut vandalism

Self service ticket machines to ensure customers have easy access to purchasing tickets across the network

Staff training and development with a commitment to achieve Investors in People accreditation by 2008

· The development of 24-hour airport services to Gatwick and Luton
· A commitment to work with Network Rail and other rail partners to deliver the new station and the only cross London dedicated heavy rail link to the high speed Channel Tunnel services due to start from St Pancras in 2007
· The introduction of PLUSBUS schemes and provide extra cycle parking
· We will develop and test new products including an ‘Earlybird’ discount for commuters travelling before the busiest trains.

First is committed to increasing capacity on this congested part of the commuter rail network through:

· The introduction of the new Thameslink timetable boosts peak time capacity for commuters by up to 10,000 seats a day.
· The extra capacity will be split between morning and evening peaks and will be mainly for Thameslink services north of London where trains are most crowded.
· An increase in GN services through selected enhancement works (the feasibility of which will be established within the first year of the franchise). Options include extra, longer trains and infrastructure enhancements; and
Co-operation with DfT, Network Rail and other industry partners to deliver the Thameslink Programme.


Contacts
FirstGroup plc:

Moir Lockhead, Chief Executive 020 7291 0512
Dean Finch, Group Finance Director 07788 178942
Rachael Borthwick, Head of Corporate Communications 020 7291 0508
Martin Helm/Stuart Bugg, Corporate Communications 020 7291 0507/0514
GO

FIRST GREATER WESTERN
 
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Dave A

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:roll: We might as well call our rail services First Railways now, instead of national rail! :roll: <(
 

Mojo

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There goes any chance of improvement out the window :(

Oh well, at least NEG didn't get it
 

Sprog

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Mojo said:
There goes any chance of improvement out the window :(

Oh well, at least NEG didn't get it
:idea:

- HST refurb
- WiFi
- Intergrated service
- Me getting an aprentiship :!: ;)
- Pink and Purple - turning to 'trippin', physcadelic stripey livery! :lol: :!:
- National Express not getting it <(
 

ChrisM

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These interest me:
- New cross Bristol services with through trains between Worcester and Taunton, Cardiff to Westbury/Southampton/Weymouth
- Regular hourly service between Westbury and London Paddington
- Reading/Gatwick service increased from hourly to half-hourly off peak
ence
· Reinstatement of seven trains each way between Oxford and Bicester
· Hourly Cardiff-Portsmouth services will all call at Filton Abbey Wood
· Regular interval two-hourly service between Bristol and Weymouth
· Severn Beach branch line services amended to provide a more robust timetable


Not all bad.
 

Mojo

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ChrisM said:
These interest me:
- New cross Bristol services with through trains between Worcester and Taunton, Cardiff to Westbury/Southampton/Weymouth
- Regular hourly service between Westbury and London Paddington
- Reading/Gatwick service increased from hourly to half-hourly off peak
ence
· Reinstatement of seven trains each way between Oxford and Bicester
· Hourly Cardiff-Portsmouth services will all call at Filton Abbey Wood
· Regular interval two-hourly service between Bristol and Weymouth
· Severn Beach branch line services amended to provide a more robust timetable
All of those were proposed in a strategy and most of them in the SRA's targets.
And I seriously can't believe what they're going to call Thameslink: -
http://www.firstcapitalconnect.co.uk/

From the search page: -
"We aim give customers what they want, not what we think they want or what is easy to delive"

Simon Someone
MD First Capital Connect

Not only is "delive" not a word (should be deliver) - they forgot to change the MD's name (Elaine Holt)
 

Techniquest

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YES!!!!!!!!!

EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!

I COULDN'T BE MORE PLEASED!!!!!!!!!!

This news couldn't come at a better time! I've been waiting for months for the result! I think I've got to quote the tune I'm listening to right now: 'I've been waiting, waiting for so long...'

This means many good things for us down here now then. More MTUs, Wi-Fi, an uber livery, HST MK3 refurbishment, retention of sleeper services...Most importantly, no more WSX! At last!

Long live First in Greater Western!

:D
 

Techniquest

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"We aim to give customers what they want, not what we think they want or what is easy to deliver"

Elaine Holt
MD First Capital Connect

Think you'll find that's what was on the page when I just clicked it 30 seconds ago.

Looking at First CC's map, I'll be getting a First CC service to Kings Lynn on my ALR trip then. That I couldn't be happier with!

Bring on First CC!
 
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Well at least I think that will probably put first group out the running for XC franchise I hope. I think the huge mistake that First and GNER made is not replacing the HST. The HSTs have done good, but they need to be replaced. Both companies just seem to want to refurbish them.
 
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Tom

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http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_railways/documents/page/dft_railways_610697.hcsp

Great Western:
On 1st June 2005 the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) issued the Invitation To Tender to the three pre-qualified bidders for the Greater Western franchise. At the same time a consultation was launched on the proposals for the new franchise. This consultation closed on 2nd August 2005.

The franchise specification and procurement function of the SRA transferred to Department for Transport (DfT) Rail Group during the summer.

Tenders for the Greater Western franchise were submitted to DfT on 26th September 2005 and a period of rigorous bid evaluation commenced.

On 13th December 2005 DfT Rail Group confirmed that the Greater Western franchise has been awarded to First Group.

The franchise, commencing on 1st April 2006, pays over £1 billion premia over the next 10 years, delivers a significant increase in capacity into London in the peak hours and measured performance improvements through infrastructure and fleet investment. Together with Network Rail's planned investments, PPM performance of the franchise should reach 90% by 2011/12.

First Group will deliver in excess of £200 million investment over the first three years of the franchise including -

* complete re-design of the HST fleet to include new interiors and increased capacity;
* installation of on-board CCTV throughout the franchise's local and regional Diesel Multiple Unit rolling stock fleet;
* an additional 1700 car parking spaces across the franchise with upgraded facilities, additional CCTV, information points and security with a commitment to improve Park Mark Safer Parking accreditation;
* introduction of new ticket vending technology including 124 new ticket vending machines;
* investment to raise the maximum speed on almost all sections of the 'slow' lines between Paddington and Reading up to 90 mph (there are currently sections where 90 mph is not achievable);
* extension of the Maidenhead station down 'fast' line platform to accommodate longer vehicles improving performance viability during periods of disruption;
* a range of security and revenue protection measures including automatic ticket gates at key stations, additional gateline staff and more community support officers;
* major investment to create integrated passenger facilities and improve the station environment and security 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;
* establishment of a Diesel Multiple Unit maintenance and servicing facility at St Philips Marsh depot and investment at Exeter and Old Oak Common depots;
* fitment of air conditioning in the driver cabs of all the Turbo (Class 16x) fleet;
* establish a Customer Information Centre to provide retailing and information provision with regard to timetable information, ticketing options, special offers and pricing options;
* a committed annual budget for Community Rail and agreeement to liaise and co-operate with Community Rail partners to develop and promote partnerships;
* Delivery of better interchange facilities, better access for the mobility impaired and improved cycle storage facilities at stations

First Group has projected growth higher than that used by SRA/DfT in its consultation documents, better reflecting the views of regional stakeholders. Furthermore, the large level of investment by First Group in areas such as rolling stock refurbishment and marketing over the early years of the franchise will generate additional passengers and revenue. The SRA forecasts did not take these issues into account.

The franchise has been awarded on the basis of the specification of the original ITT, consulted upon by SRA/DfT Rail Group this summer, which included the following service improvements:

* additional peak stopping trains between Paddington and Slough running every 30 minutes;
* additional morning and evening peak services at Twyford, Maidenhead and Slough;
* a regular hourly service between Westbury and London Paddington;
* Reading - Gatwick Airport off-peak services doubled from hourly to half hourly;
* New cross-Bristol, with through trains between Worcester and Taunton, Cardiff to Westbury/Southampton/Weymouth and Weston-super-Mare to Filton.

In addition, the following changes to the original specification have been agreed with the Franchisee;

* The London-Cardiff (and vv) off-peak half-hourly service is retained;
* A London-Penzance overnight service is retained and simplified with the separate Plymouth portion removed ( the service will continue to call at Plymouth in both directions but will not have a dedicated sleeping coach);
* the current level of off-peak mainline stops at Slough will be retained. Slough branch line stops will be retimed to co-incide with mainline stops to/from London, thereby improving connectivity. The performance risks of stopping on the main line at Slough will be mitigated through robust timetabling and this approach has been agreed with Network Rail;
* in order to maintain London connections with off-peak stops at Slough (above), the Windsor - Slough services will remain a half-hourly service as now (20 minutes in the peak hours);
* 6 trains per weekday on the Oxford-Bicester line, with realistically timed peak hour services;
* faster journey times between London and Cheltenham;
* The quantum of off-peak Didcot calls will remain as current;
* A daily direct Frome-London return service is introduced;
* Better connections with mainline services from the branch lines in Devon and Cornwall;
* A direct 1 train per day London-Newquay service will only operate in the high peak of summer (July/August). Due to current track quality it is not possible to introduce a year-round service initially, however DfT, First Group and Network Rail will work together to deliver a year-round service in the future if possible.

In many cases these changes address specific issues raised by stakeholders during the consultation which took place this summer.

DfT has secured a commitment from the successful bidder to work towards the development of the Crossrail scheme, when funding is secured, and HST2.

First Group are also committed to working with stakeholders to develop plans for the modernisation of Reading and Bristol Temple Meads stations, subject to funding availability, establish Area Integration Partnerships with Local Authorities and transport operators and, subject to necessary consents, introduce a Penalty Fares Scheme on the Bristol, Plymouth and Exeter commuter routes.
 

Harold

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This is indeed FANTISTIC news. I'm so happy to hear about the refurbishment upgrade on the HST sets is to continue. I am also looking forward to seeing the new livery. :D
 

Guinness

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First getting is disgraceful. However, if they deliver their promises then I might give First another chance. *Waits and sees*
 

AlexS

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Didn't you know they were going to get it? It follows the same pattern each time.

They lost North Western and Great Eastern, they gain ScotRail and TPX. They retained Great Western (With the boring Wessex thrown in), and then Thameslink as the DfT lovechild.

National Express lose ScotRail, Wessex doesn't count, but they gain One.

Stagecoach keeps its status quo of 49% stake in Cross Country and West Coast, and controlling stake in South West Trains.

All the smaller operators are being weeded out, SeaCo made it in by a hairs breadth and face ridiculous payments as a result. The rest all got bought up, leaving M40 Railways as the only small company left in it (Serco are not small by any means with Merseyrail, Northern and the Croydon Tramlink all operated by them). Arriva have one franchise also.

Personally, as long as First don't win the West Midlands part of Central Trains, I'll be happy. National Express Group have been doing very well indeed with Central Trains in the last 12 months around here, a 100% improvement on previously.
 

Max

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I think this seems like good news. I've never travelled on FGW, but their reliabilty seems to be pretty good, and I think First seem to be doing an ok job. Plus they still have HSTs! :D
 

Angus

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More bad news - First take over yet more public transport. I'm still waiting for First buses to be kicked out of Sheffield - anyone know when the contract or whatever bus operators have is due to end?

At least I don't live in the Greater Western area, and we still have GNER, Chiltern and SWT left who can run a railway.
 

Jordy

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Yeah sounds good to me, I like First (Rail) :D, will be interesting to see the new HST livery, particularly if its that crazy sqiggley one :shock:

Jordy
 

devon_metro

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Jordy said:
Yeah sounds good to me, I like First (Rail) :D, will be interesting to see the new HST livery, particularly if its that crazy sqiggley one :shock:

Jordy
A new livery? :shock: As long as it's not purple it's fine!
 

Mojo

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Angus, Bus operators are not contracted for most services, they run services under the 1985 Transport Act on a commercial basis. Councils have the responsibility to keep some non-commercially viable services running, and they are contracted to whoever bids for it.

The Traffic Commissioner can revoke liscences but a total removal is extremely rare, and I believe it's never happnned before.
 

Jim

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ChrisM said:
These interest me:
1 New cross Bristol services with through trains between Worcester and Taunton, Cardiff to Westbury/Southampton/Weymouth
2Regular hourly service between Westbury and London Paddington
-3Reading/Gatwick service increased from hourly to half-hourly off peak
ence
·4Reinstatement of seven trains each way between Oxford and Bicester
·5Hourly Cardiff-Portsmouth services will all call at Filton Abbey Wood
·6Regular interval two-hourly service between Bristol and Weymouth
·7Severn Beach branch line services amended to provide a more robust timetable


Not all bad.
1. Doubtfull, not enough units
2. With 165's so I have been told (they didn't admit only 2 WC - Paddy HST's will stop there now :cry:
3. They will run out of 165's
4. '' '' '' '' '' '' '' '' ''
5. what is the point
6. Ouch, that is pushing it
7. unlkiely

Some of my analysis is true especially on 2.
 

Mojo

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The latter especially as those twats in Bristol City Council (Lib Dem run - what a surprise) want to have it turned into a Guided Busway.
 

heart-of-wessex

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what do you mean 'whats the point' at the filton abbey wood stop, jim?

Ive been on a few packed trains before, and believe it or not, empties out near enough at Filton! so yes i know thats a popular stop really so yes so they should stop there
 

Jim

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heart-of-wessex said:
what do you mean 'whats the point' at the filton abbey wood stop, jim?

Ive been on a few packed trains before, and believe it or not, empties out near enough at Filton! so yes i know thats a popular stop really so yes so they should stop there

Peak hour that will be.
 
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