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Fewer franchises and more investment in South East

PASSENGER TRAIN franchises will be dramatically cut in a bid to increase capacity and boost efficiency, according to proposals in the SRA's strategic plan.

Stations in London will be limited to one operator 'wherever possible' which will mean a number of operators losing franchises or merging operations.

For example, services into London's Euston station - presently split between Virgin and Silverlink - will be limited to one operator.

A Virgin spokesman welcomed the move saying the industry needed a simpler arrangement to make better use of terminals.

He added that there would have to be discussions between operators on how best to merge services.

The SRA plan also states that new franchise replacements will be done using enhanceable agreements. These will allow for a series of possible enhancements to be agreed before the start of a 15 year franchise term.

London and South East passenger services are to get most of the investment set out in the plan, as the region accounts for 70% of rail journeys nationwide. The strategic plan said improving London services was crucial if it was to meet the targeted 50% growth in passengers.

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