National Express Group PLC
13 February 2004
Friday 13 February 2004
National Express Group PLC
Two-year franchise extensions signed for Great Northern and Wessex Trains
National Express Group ('the Group'), the UK's leading train operator, is
pleased to confirm that it has agreed two-year extensions to its Great Northern
and Wessex Trains franchises following the completion of negotiations with the
Strategic Rail Authority ('SRA'). Both franchises have been extended until
The Group has been operating Great Northern on a fixed subsidy agreed with the
SRA in February 2002 and the franchise has annual passenger revenues of £120
million. Wessex Trains has been operated on a yearly budget since October 2001
and has annual passenger revenues of £35 million. The terms of the franchise
remain the same as previous.
To facilitate the creation of the Greater Anglia franchise, the West Anglia
Great Northern franchise has been split with the West Anglia services forming
part of the new Greater Anglia franchise and Great Northern services remaining
As part of the Great Northern two-year extension the Group has agreed to
maintain the current timetable whilst working with Network Rail to further
improve performance across the route. Other commitments will include the
introduction of 16 additional Class 365 trains bringing improved customer
comfort across key long-distance commuter routes from Peterborough and
The Wessex Trains franchise was disaggregated by the SRA from the former Wales
and West franchise and launched as a separate franchise in October 2001. The
Group has developed the franchise into an expanding business serving diverse
passenger markets incorporating commuters, business, leisure and tourism.
Moving forward the new two-year franchise will ensure stability of services and
provide the management team with further opportunities to investigate rail
partnership funds from which the franchise has significantly benefited since its
Phil White, Chief Executive of National Express Group said:
'This is further good news for our trains division. Such extensions provide
certainty for all stakeholders as the SRA continues its remapping process.
Following today's announcement we will be able to ensure stability of services
as well as ongoing operational improvements for the benefit of our customers.
'On Great Northern we look forward to working with the SRA on the creation of
the new Thameslink franchise and also on Wessex, which we have been instrumental
in growing from a disparate collection of services into an effective and
cohesive franchise. We will now be working with the SRA to assist in the
creation of the Greater Western franchise.'
- ENDS -
Notes to Editors
• National Express Group PLC acquired the Great Northern franchise as
part of its purchase of Prism Rail in September 2000. In February 2001 the SRA
extended the Great Northern part of the West Anglia Great Northern franchise
from 31 March 2001 to 30 April 2004. Great Northern covers services between
London Kings Cross/Moorgate and Peterborough via Stevenage and the Hertford
Loop, Cambridge and Kings Lynn. For the duration of the new extension period
the franchise will continue to be known as Wagn although West Anglia services
will form part of the Greater Anglia franchise from April 2004.
• The Wessex Trains franchise was created out of the Wales and West
franchise in October 2001. It provides local and long distance rail services in
Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and Gloucestershire.
For further information, please contact:
Nicola Marsden/ Fiona Noblet
National Express Group PLC 020 7529 2000
This information is provided by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange