Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text SWINDON NEWS to 80360 or email us
First Great Western to run line well into 2015
6:29pm Thursday 3rd October 2013 in News
FIRST Great Western will continue to run the Great Western rail network until September 2015, it was announced yesterday.
The Department for Transport declared a new deal, which was agreed late on Wednesday night, granting FGW a 23-month extension to its current deal.
FirstGroup has run the network, which serves Swindon, since April 2006 and will continue for another two years while the Government decides how it wishes to proceed with a long-term franchising process.
The extension has been arranged with promises to provide better quality Wi-Fi on services, more standard class seats with fewer first class seats, additional sleeper carriages from London to Cornwall and several million pounds of investment for stations most in need.
A spokesman for FGW said: “Given the circumstances, this is positive news for our customers, for our colleagues and for our shareholders.
“It provides certainty and continuity of services, which has been lacking in the hiatus period while the Government is working through how to deal with franchise issues.
“The Wi-Fi will come into play almost immediately, with priority for that programme going to high-speed trains.”
As a part of the extension there are 12 new journeys due to added to the daily timetables between Swindon, Melksham and Westbury, though the finer details are yet to be ironed out on when these journeys will come into play.
FGW is unaware of when the Government will decide on a new franchising process for its rail networks, with contracts of any duration possible.
Chris Watts, who set up Fair Fares 4 Swindon, said: “The one thing I am happy about is the fact it will run until September 2015. Who knows what the potential implications will be for the line with the possibility of a new government. They may well want to make changes to how FGW has run this line.”
Chris made clear his dissatisfaction with the cost of a season ticket between Swindon and London, stating it was one of the most expensive journeys to make in Europe with a cost-per-mile calculation.
He does not believe this contract extension will mean any great improvement for Swindon passengers.
He said: “We have such a fantastic opportunity with a mainline to London running through our town. The high prices affect potential investment into the town. Having commuters move to Swindon would be excellent for the local economy.
“Instead, they stay away. Swindon Council has always said one of the things stopping companies who may wish to trade with London from coming to Swindon is the high fares.”
Comments are closed on this article.