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Thirteen shortlisted for Great Western, Thameslink and Essex Thameside rail franchises

Rail minister Theresa Villiers has revealed that a total of 13 firms are in the running to become the next operators of the Great Western, Thameslink and Essex Thameside rail franchises.

The new Great Western franchise operator will be closely involved in improving rail services following the completion of the electrification and Intercity Express projects, the new Thameslink operator will help oversee the completion of the Thameslink project and the operator of Essex Thameside services will be expected to support economic growth along the Thames Gateway.

The four bidders for the Great Western franchise are current operator First Great Western, an Arriva/Deutsche Bahn JV, National Express Group and South West Trains operator Stagecoach.

Invitations to tender will be issued in May. It is anticipated that the successful bidder will be announced in December 2012, with the contract commencing in April 2013. The length of the franchise term will be 15 years.

Bidders for Essex Thameside are Dutch rail operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen, First Group, Hong Kong rail operator MTR Corporation and National Express Group.

Invitations to tender for this contract will be issued in June. It is anticipated the successful bidder will be announced in January 2013, with the contract commencing in May 2013. The length of the franchise term will also be 15 years.

Bidding for the Thameslink franchise are once again Nederlandse Spoorwegen, First Group, MTR and Stagecoach, along with a Go-Ahead Group/Keolis JV.

These potential providers will receive invitations to tender in October. It is anticipated that the successful bidder will be announced in May 2013, with the contract commencing in September 2013. The length of the franchise will be a minimum of seven years, with pricing also required for a potential extension of up to two years,

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