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Rail News: Passenger Rail

UK franchises change hands, invest

The United Kingdom Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions' shadow Strategic Rail Authority (sSRA) in mid-August announced franchise changes.

M40, the preferred operator for a new Chiltern Trains franchise, plans to invest up to $545.4 million with Railtrack; and Midland Mainline plans to invest $3580.83 million following negotiations regarding extending the franchise from 10 to 12 years. The investments will go toward providing more services more frequently; track, signal and stations improvements; and greater integration between the systems.

"Our 10-Year plan includes 60 billion pounds ($88.44 billion) for the railways to modernize the network and provide for the 50 percent growth in demand that we expect," said Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in a prepared statement.

Also in mid-August, the sSRA announced the three parties on the shortlist to compete for the South West Trains franchise: Stagecoach Holdings plc (franchisee of South West Trains and Island Line), FirstGroup plc (franchisee of Great Eastern, Great Western and North Western) in association with the Dutch Railways, and GNER Holdings Limited (subsidiary of Sea Containers Ltd. and franchisee of GNER).

The replacement proposal is based on the existing South West Trains franchise with an option to include or exclude services between Waterloo and Salisbury/Exeter.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/31/2000