Strategic Rail Authority
7th April 2005

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1st April 2005

Pre-qualified Bidders for Two New Passenger Rail Franchises were announced by the SRA today

Greater Western

National Express Group PLC

FirstGroup plc

Stagecoach Group

Thameslink/Great Northern

National Express Group PLC

FirstGroup plc

Stagecoach Group

MTR /John Laing plc

Danish Railways (DSB) / English, Welsh and Scottish Railways (EWS)

Notes to Editors:

  1. The new Greater Western franchise will be made up of the existing Great Western, Great Western Link and Wessex Trains franchises and will run from April 1st 2006 for a period of 7 years plus 3 extra years automatic extension if agreed performance targets are met.
  2. The new Thameslink/Great Northern franchise will be made up of the existing Thameslink franchise and the Great Northern network, which is currently the WAGN franchise. The franchise is expected to begin operations on April 1st 2006 for 4 years plus 2 extra years if agreed performance targets are met with a possible further extension for up to 3 years to facilitate work on the Thameslink 2000 project.
  3. The SRA and the Government are currently in close discussion with operating companies, Network Rail, manufacturers and others to establish a collaborative project aimed at procuring the next generation of High Speed Trains. We think this is best done as a single industry project. For this reason we will not be inviting or accepting any separate proposals for HST replacement from the bidders for the Greater Western Franchise.

SRA Press Office 020 7654 6339 / 6858

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