First Group reaches the deal with DfT for FGW franchise

Posted on in Members' News

UK: The government has reached an agreement with First Group plc for First Great Western (FGW) to continue to operate trains between London Paddington, the Cotswolds, South Wales and the south west until April 2019.

The new deal will include a host of extra benefits for passengers including:

  • around 3,000,000 additional seats per year by 2018 across the franchise
  • 4000 more morning peak seats into London every day by December 2018
  • proposals for a brand new fleet of privately funded trains
  • more trains into Devon and Cornwall
  • the introduction of 369 new carriages through the roll-out of new hi-tech Intercity Express Programme trains built by Hitachi
  • the introduction of 58, 4-car electric trains for Thames Valley services
  • faster journeys between Penzance and Paddington and London to South Wales, Oxford and Bristol
  • a £30 million investment to improve stations and car parks, introducing 2000 more car park spaces (plus additional funding from partners)
  • a £3.5 million station development match fund
  • a £2.5 million accessibility fund

FGW map

Improvements on Reading to Gatwick Airport line include:

  • the continued redevelopment of Reading Station to remove a major bottleneck, reduce delays and create 4 extra train paths in each direction per hour.
  • additional services from May 2017 and further extra services from December 2018.
  • timetable improvements from May 2017 with further improvements from December 2018.
  • South Eastern Flexible Ticketing introduced.
  • closed circuit television (CCTV).

FirstGroup Chief Executive Tim O’Toole said:
“We are delighted to be awarded the contract by the DfT to operate the Great Western franchise to at least 1 April 2019, in a deal that will deliver for passengers and taxpayers.
“We are already working closely with the DfT and Network Rail to deliver the initial phases of the £7.5 billion Great Western Mainline modernisation programme. This investment is the biggest on the route since Brunel, and will transform a key part of the country’s transport infrastructure.”

The operator said they will be expanding the use of the Great Western Railway (GWR) brand, currently used on the long distance First Class carriages with the rebrand work beginning before the start of the new franchise.

To learn more about the new franchise, join the Global AirRail Conference, 20-22 May, Toronto.