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Friday 14 March, 2003

Strategic Rail Auth

Re Pre-Qualified Bidders

Strategic Rail Authority
14 March 2003


                   Four Pre-Qualify for Scottish Franchise



The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) today announced that four parties have
successfully pre-qualified as bidders for the new Scottish franchise, which will
operate the majority of passenger rail services in Scotland from 2004.  The
parties are:



•        Arriva Trains Ltd

•        FirstGroup plc

•        National Express Group PLC

•        Serco Rail/Netherlands Railways



In the next stage of the franchising process, the SRA and its partners will
invite the four parties to submit detailed bids.  The SRA and partners expect to
announce a preferred bidder in January 2004.



Nick Newton, SRA Managing Director, Operations, said:





'These are four strong players with considerable rail experience.  They had to
reach a high threshold to pre-qualify and demonstrated an understanding of and
commitment to Scotland's rail services.  It's good news for Scottish
passengers.'





Notes to Editors





1.      The incumbent franchisee is National Express Group Plc whose ScotRail
franchise is due to expire in April 2004.  The new franchise will be for seven
years.





2.      The SRA's partners in the franchising process are the Scottish Executive
and Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive.





For further details contact the SRA Press Office on 020 7654 6339/ 6234/ 6387

Or visit the website on www.sra.gov.uk






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

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