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Tuesday 22 March, 2005

Strategic Rail Auth

Re: East Coast Franchise

Strategic Rail Authority
22 March 2005

                            Strictly embargoed until 07.00am on Tuesday 22 March
                                                                   22 March 2005

                     Biggest Deal in European Rail History
                    Marks East Coast Franchise Announcement

The Strategic Rail Authority today announced that GNER has won the new franchise
to operate InterCity East Coast Main Line services.

In terms of a pure railway concession it represents the biggest financial
transaction in European railway history.

The franchise replacement was completed in record time, ensuring that the new
franchise starts operations on the target date of May 1st 2005.

Under the new franchise contract, GNER will pay £1.3bn over the life of the
franchise, in premium, to the government for reinvestment in the rail network,
and will deliver specific and demonstrable commitments which will underpin high
levels of customer care and service quality.

Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling said:

'The Government wants to see improvement in the quality of service to passengers
as well as a good deal for taxpayers.

'GNER is committed to improving punctuality and reliability of its services
along the entire East Coast route.  It will refurbish carriages and invest in
stations, as well as maintaining the high levels of on board service. Extra
staff will also be recruited to provide added passenger security.

'Improvements like this will encourage more and more people to travel by train
along the route.'

SRA Chairman, David Quarmby said:

'It was vitally important to ensure that this new franchise was signed and
delivered for a 1 May start date.  Congratulations to all concerned - it ensures
continuity in the delivery of this important intercity service, with benefits
for passengers and taxpayers alike'.

The benefits for passengers will be:
•    £75m of new investment in the High Speed Trains, including the complete 
     interior, and exterior refurbishment  of all the diesel HST's and the
     re-engining of the power cars to improve their reliability and performance;

•    £25m of new investment in stations;

•    18 new Special Constables along the line of route;

•    £3m of investment in customer security measures both at stations, car parks 
     and on-trains;

•    £5m of investment in depot facilities;

•    New half hourly London-Leeds services throughout the day;

•    A commitment to develop a newly electrified stretch of track south of 
     Leeds, providing greater Leeds to London capacity;

•    A contractual commitment to restore operational performance to better than 
     pre-Hatfield levels, culminating in a PPM of 90% by 2010 and staying there
     or above;

•    Up to £5m investment over the franchise term in improving access to
     franchise facilities for the disabled;

•    900 new car parking spaces along the line of route, focusing on known areas 
     of under capacity;

•    50 new FastTicket machines along the line of route at key stations;

•    60 additional revenue protection staff.

Notes to Editors:

1.   The franchise is for 7 years from May 1st 2005 with an automatic 3 year
     extension subject to agreed performance targets being met.

2.   The franchising team was led by Nicola Shaw, Managing Director, Operations 
     at the Strategic Rail Authority and the contract was negotiated by Peter 

3.   Additional benefit to taxpayers and passengers are:
     •    A new early morning-peak service from Peterborough to London;
     •    Establishment of a new staff 'University' for the development of
          leadership, management and customer service skills and culture across 
          the franchise;
     •    The extension of current wi-fi facilities across the fleet;

     •    Web and internet retailing of tickets;

     •    Ticket barriers at Peterborough, Durham and Newcastle;

     •    A new website detailing all aspects of the franchise services
          including facilities for cycles;

     •    Improved conditions for the carriage of cycles on trains;

     •    Covered cycle facilities at stations;

     •    Through-bus tickets at key destinations along the line of route;

     •    Investment in Taxi-Bus facilities for easy access to and from key
          stations for GNER customers.

                  SRA Press Office 020 7654 6339 / 6858 / 6857

    Latest news and announcements from the SRA can be viewed on our website:

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

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