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SRA sets franchising ball rolling again

NEWS

BIDDERS FOR new rail franchises will be given clearer guidance to help them produce more easily comparable bids, the Strategic Rail Authority said this week.

The SRA said this should help to avoid a repeat of last year's East Coast Main Line (ECML) tender fiasco where Virgin and GNER spent millions of pounds bidding for a franchise that would be re-tendered in two years' time.

New SRA chairman Richard Bowker is keen to get franchising restarted following a year of delay. This process had been the responsibility of chief executive Mike Grant who left the SRA suddenly SRA just before Christmas.

The SRA had committed to having 18 franchises signed by last autumn, but to date terms for only six have been agreed.

The process was also thrown into turmoil in July when transport secretary Stephen Byers announced that only short term deals would be signed.

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