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Tuesday 01 October, 2002

Strategic Rail Auth

Four submit Wales & Borders

Strategic Rail Authority
01 October 2002
                                                                  1 October 2002



     Four Invited to Submit Final Bids for Wales and Borders Franchise

The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) today announced that it has invited four 
bidders to prepare best and final offers for the new passenger rail franchise 
for Wales and Borders.  The four bidders are:

•   Arriva Trains Ltd
•   GB Railways Plc/Connex Transport UK Limited
•   National Express Group PLC
•   Serco Rail/Netherlands Railways

The final bidder will be selected once the best and final offers have been 
received and considered.

Nick Newton, Chief Operating Officer said:

'We have four strong contenders to take through to the next stage of tendering 
for this new, all-Wales rail franchise. The franchise will give certainty to 
passengers throughout the area and will  provide the services and benefits they
deserve.'


Notes to Editors

1.      The franchise term is for 15 years.

2.      The SRA announced in January 2002 that eight parties had pre-qualified: 
Arriva Trains Ltd, Connex Transport UK Ltd, FirstGroup plc, GB Railways Group
plc, National Express Group plc, NS/Dutch Railways, Serco Ltd, Keolis SA. First
Group announced their withdrawal from the process in May 2002.  The SRA accepted
a joint bid from GB Railways Plc /Connex Transport UK Ltd in July 2002.  In
addition, the SRA agreed to take forward the initial Serco bid as a joint
venture bid by Serco/Netherlands Railways.

3.      It will include all local and regional passenger rail services within
Wales, services from Cardiff to Hereford, Shrewsbury and Manchester, and those
from Wales to Birmingham, North West England and the West Country.  The services
are currently operated by National Express Group plc, using the 'Wales &
Borders' branding - with the exception of services in North Wales and parts of
the North West of England, currently operated by First North Western.

4.      The Wales & Borders franchise will bring together under one management
the local and interurban trains in Wales and the Welsh Border counties plus many
longer distance services running between Wales and the West Midlands and North
West England.

5.      The new franchise will include the operation of all stations in Wales,
and those predominately served by the new franchise in the border counties,
including Chester, Shrewsbury and Hereford.

6.      Long-distance high-speed services to and from Wales will continue to be
operated by First Great Western, Virgin CrossCountry and Virgin West Coast.

7.      The SRA today also announced the shortlisted bidders for the Merseyrail
franchise.

8.       The SRA is the government body responsible for allocating funding to
the railways, and providing leadership to the rail industry.


Media Enquiries: SRA Press Office 020 7654 6339/6387/6234


                      This information is provided by RNS
            The company news service from the London Stock Exchange