South West Trains Loses Franchise
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The Stagecoach Group which operates South West Trains says it’s disappointed that it has been unsuccessful in its bid for the new South Western rail franchise, which is due to commence in summer 2017.
The Department for Transport has announced instead that First MTR South Western Trains Limited will run the SouthWestern franchise from Aug 2017. The Department says the new company “will provide better journeys” and will generate jobs and new skills.
Stagecoach Group Chief Executive Martin Griffiths says he’s proud to have operated the network under the South West Trains brand for more than 20 years: “Over the past two decades, we have delivered real improvements for our customers right across the network.
“That success has been built on fantastic people, detailed knowledge of the business and strong relationships with our stakeholders and railway partners. But we have never thought our job was finished.
“We believe we submitted a strong bid for the new South Western franchise. It offered a transformation in the travel experience for our customers, more investment to help the railway support the communities and economy of the south-west, as well as a substantial and deliverable financial benefit to taxpayers to help fund better public services.
“We will be seeking detailed feedback from the Department for Transport on the various elements of our bid.
“I would like to thank all of our employees and partners who have been involved in delivering our vision for the railway in the south-west over the past two decades as well as those who contributed to our strong bid for the new franchise.
“I know they share our disappointment in the result. Nevertheless, we will continue to work hard on our part to deliver a professional service and meet our obligations in the final months of our current franchise.”
Speaking to Winchester Today within a few minutes of the award of the new franchise, Winchester MP Steve Brine MP said he was delighted with the switch: “Congratulations to First Group for snatching this key franchise away from Stagecoach/South West Trains. I’ve met regularly with both bidders over the course of the last few years and been impressed with the ambition First have shown for the service they can offer the public.
“Their undertaking to increase capacity – in spacious carriages – deliver wi-fi that works, a modern smart and flexible season ticket policy as well as new lower fares for 16-18 year olds are really exciting. I look forward to working with the team and will hold them to every word.”
The MP added he had already secured an undertaking from FirstGroup to work afresh on finding a long term solution to the parking problems at Shawford and Micheldever Station. “What we have now is a short-sighted sticking plaster and I’ve already been in touch with the team at First this morning to congratulate them and seek an early meeting to return to discuss both.”
Not everyone appears so keen though. Reaction has been swift on Twitter:
Ah! Now we’ve sold South West trains to China. Power Stations, airports and now trains ALL in 6mths. What will be UK owned after #Article50