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SRA to grab rail investment programme

STRATEGIC RAIL Authority chairman Richard Bowker last week signalled his intention to take control of rail investment away from train operators.

Bankers believe this means the SRA feels privately financed upgrades are unworkable.

Last week the authority took control of the £325M investment programme which was to have been carried out by train operator GoVia on the renewed South Central train franchise.

South Central covers the London to Brighton and south coast routes. The authority will now control and fund all infrastructure upgrades leaving operator GoVia to run trains.

The SRA also slashed the South Central Rail franchise from 20 years to seven.

GoVia was announced as preferred bidder for a 20 year franchise in October 2000, to operate commuter services between London and Surrey and Sussex.

This deal included provision of new rolling stock, station upgrades and infrastructure improvements.

While the SRA is taking charge of the infrastructure upgrade, GoVia is still to fund rolling stock and station improvements.

The authority will pay GoVia for use of the upgrade plans developed as part of its bid, although the proposed electrification of part of the route has been scrapped.

GoVia has already signed deals for the supply of new rolling stock. This will switch to a new operator after seven years if GoVia's franchise is not renewed. Station improvements should not be affected.

The SRA and GoVia said the change was triggered by uncertainty over the proposed Thameslink 2000 which connects to the South Central network.

INFOPLUS www. nceplus.co.uk/magazine/ rail

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