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Government scraps Great Western rail franchise bid

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has today terminated the Great Western rail franchise competition following recommendations from the Brown review.

Current operator First Great Western will continue to run the route - covering destinations from Paddington out west including Reading, Cardiff, Bristol and Plymouth - 28 weeks beyond the length of the current franchise.

The announcement comes just months after the government was forced to cancel the West Coast Main Line franchise competition.

Following the debacle McLoughlin commissioned the Brown review into rail franchising. Its findings released earlier this month backed the overall policy but warned the Department for Transport (DfT) needed more skilled staff to analysis the process and called for the bidding and evaluation method to be strengthened and simplified.

The Department for Transport will now negotiate a two year interim arrangement before announcing details of a new competition in the spring.

“We have had to take some tough decisions regarding franchising, and while they may provide a challenge in the short term, I believe the lessons we have learnt will help deliver a more robust system in the future benefitting fare payers and taxpayers alike,” said McLoughlin.

DfT also announced the competition for the Essex Thameside competition will be restarted in the summer with existing shortlisted bidders. Current operator c2c will run the franchise for a further two years on an interim contract.

The Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise will also be resumed with DfT working towards a seven year contract. Current operator First Capital Connect will run the franchise for a further two years on an interim contract.

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