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The shadow Strategic Rail Authority said this week it was planning to cut the number of train operating franchises from 25 to 22 and create a single one for Wales. The new Welsh franchise will replace four existing ones. New Wessex and Thameslink 2000 franchises have also been proposed.

SSRA's proposals will be finalised after consultation with train operators. The shadow authority has also upgraded the Trans Pennine franchise to high speed status. There is a new Anglia and Humber franchise for running high speed trains between London, Norwich and Hull. The proposals allow the train operating companies to prepare their franchise bids.

The sSRA hopes to reach agreement with preferred bidders by autumn next year.

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