First Group wins an extension to its Great Western rail franchise

Marion Dakers
FIRST Group has won 23 more months of running the Great Western rail route between London and the south west.

The franchise was due to expire this month, and will need to be renewed again before the government awards the long-term contract to start in 2016.

Many of Britain’s rail operators have been handed extensions while the Department for Transport overhauls its franchise contests, which were found to have “serious flaws” during the West Coast competition last year.

First Group, which was initially awarded the West Coast route but has been forced to pitch again for the work, said the extension for Great Western “is good news for, taxpayers and our shareholders”.

Meanwhile First Group said trading was in line with expectations in the six months to the end of September.

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