Franchise extension granted for First Capital Connect


.... - Credit: Archant

TRAIN operator First Capital Connect has been given a 12-month extension on their franchise.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has extended the franchise to September 2014, at which time a new franchise will be let which, in July 2015, will then incorporate rail services currently operated by Southern.

First Capital Connect managing director Neal Lawson said: “Despite the challenges of operating an ageing fleet of trains, passenger satisfaction has improved during our time in charge of the franchise, some elements by up to 17%, despite carrying 14m more people a year.

“We have brought in extra trains and longer services to deliver 29 per cent more seats at the busiest times of the day on the Thameslink route and 22 per cent extra on the Great Northern.

“We have also shown we can manage complex projects such as the Thameslink Programme which will deliver more much-needed new capacity and route improvements and we will continue working closely on this with the DfT and our industry partners.”

FirstGroup chief executive Tim O’Toole added: “The publication of the timetable setting out the return to rail franchising is an important development for the industry, enabling the private sector to continue to provide effective and efficient passenger rail services with further performance and infrastructure improvements. In particular, the extension of our First Capital Connect franchise provides continuity and consistency for our passengers and enables us to continue to deliver considerable improvements to services.

“As the UK’s largest and most experienced rail operator, we remain committed to maintaining a leading position in the market. We look forward to reviewing the details of the upcoming franchise competitions as they are announced, and submitting further high quality bids that deliver for passengers, taxpayers and shareholders.”