Posted 18th March 2015 | 3 Comments

New Great Western franchise confirmed by Chancellor


CHANCELLOR George Osborne has announced a new franchise for Great Western. The news came during his Budget speech, in which he also signalled more transport investment in London and other regions, including the North and South West.

He said: "Today we confirm: new investment in transport; regeneration from Brent Cross to Croydon; new powers for the Mayor over skills and planning; and new funding for the London Land Commission to help address the acute housing shortage in the capital.

"For we don’t pull the rest of the country up, by pulling London down. Instead we will build on London’s success by building the Northern Powerhouse.

"Working across party lines, and in partnership with the councils of the north, we are this week publishing a comprehensive Transport Strategy for the North.

"We’re also connecting up the South West, with over £7 billion of transport investment, better roads, support for air links, and – I can confirm today – a new rail franchise which will bring new intercity express trains and greatly improved rail services."

The Budget document says: "The secretary of state for transport will shortly set out details of the new franchise for the Great Western Route, which will introduce the new £3 billion Intercity Express trains, more frequent services and faster journey times.

"The Government has asked the South West Peninsula Task Force on rail to consider improvements to the Exeter to Salisbury line as part of its work. The government also encourages the relevant local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnership to develop a business case for investment in the North Devon Link road, to form the basis of a future application to the Local Growth Fund."

Talks have been underway for many months between FirstGroup and the Department for Transport, and there is speculation that First has won a further direct award of four years or so, which would extend the present franchise to 2020.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • David Cook, Broadstone, Dorset

    As a regular user of the service from Weymouth to Bristol (the Dorchester to Castle Cary bit), the earliest train on a Sunday is after 14.00. I know we are a bit sleepy down this way, but a morning train leaving Weymouth at, say, 10.00, would be a great help. The staff are great, but a few extra trains would be useful, even dirty trains are better than no trains...... perhaps we could have the old tube trains that are meant for up North, if they moan too much and really don't want them!!!!

  • Tim, Devon

    Bit of a joke really isn't it? A matter of weeks before the election and suddenly it's "maybe you'll get some investment". Too little too late Mr Osborne. You've had 4+years and left us out in the cold. We aren't that stupid to suddenly be distracted by a shiney object dangelled infront of us.

  • David Tharby, Dorchester

    I wonder if we will get a better service on the Weymouth to Bristol line. The present old, dirty two car stock, crowded, standing only from Westbury in the morning and out of Bath in the evening plus the deplorable timetable and reliability need sorting ASAP. A train every two or three hours and a couple on Sunday is not acceptable nowadays.

    Reminiscent of the bad old BR days of driving away passengers as an excuse to close the line. The valiant Heart of Wessex group need more trains as well as flower baskets and GW must perform. Railways in Eastern Europe and half of Asia do better than what we have to put up with.