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Monday 26 June, 2000

Shadow StrategicRail

New Thameslink Franchise

Shadow Strategic Rail Authority
26 June 2000

Proposals Invited for New Thameslink 2000 Franchise

Development of the important cross London Thameslink route came a step nearer
today as the SSRA invited proposals for the new Thameslink 2000 franchise. 
Thameslink is the only main line rail route across central London and plans
for a new franchise were announced as part of the new franchise map earlier
last week. It will incorporate the north - south services of the existing
Thameslink franchise, and the Great Northern services currently operated by
West Anglia Great Northern, linking Kings Cross to Cambridge, King's Lynn and
Peterborough. The Thameslink 2000 franchise will enable passengers in
Cambridge and Bedford to reach the heart of the City, South London, Gatwick
Airport, the Sussex Coast and Kent, without changing trains or transferring
to Underground or bus to cross London.  

Based on the long awaited Thameslink 2000 development project, the new
franchise is planned to operate a substantial increase in the number of
trains through central London in each direction by 2006, adding much needed
extra capacity to the overstretched rail network. It will improve services
for passengers coming into the capital by offering a wider choice of stations
within Central London. It will also relieve congestion on the Underground

Welcoming the start of the competitive process, Franchising Director Mike
Grant said:
'I expect healthy competition for this major new London franchise. Once
completed, Thameslink 2000 will form one of the largest network of services
in the South East and offer much needed relief on existing main line services
and the London Underground.  
'We are seeking proposals from strong companies prepared to play a leading
role in the building of the new infrastructure including the new station
below St Pancras to replace Kings Cross Thameslink station, planned for
completion in 2006. Thameslink 2000 will be a significant franchise for the
South East and potential bidders will also have to prove they can deliver a
step change in the quality of service for passengers if they wish to be
considered for its future operation.' 
There will be a pre-qualification process for interested parties and
applications should be made to Nick Newton, Executive Director, Franchise
Management at the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority, 55 Victoria Street,
London, SW1H 0EU in the first instance. Interested parties should contact
Nick Newton no later than noon on Monday 7th July to register their interest
in the pre-qualification process. 
Notes to editors: 
A map of the proposed Thameslink 2000 franchise is attached.

Some services through the Thameslink route may be provided by the
present Connex South Eastern franchise (depending on appropriate discussion
with the franchisee), as they were granted right of first refusal at the time
of privatisation.
The assessment of proposals will focus on the level of investment risk
for the franchisee, as well as taking account of that to be undertaken by
Railtrack and train leasing companies. The Franchising Director must conclude
that the new terms offer value for money. The Franchising Director will be
evaluating proposals against criteria set out in the Instructions and
Guidance set out by the Secretary of State. These include:

* Commitment to improved performance 
* Extra or accelerated investment 
* Better compensation arrangements 
* Value to the taxpayer 
* Initiatives to promote integrated transport 
* Track record of the franchisee 
* Willingness to give passengers a greater voiceThe scheme currently being
considered would allow for 24 peak hour trains in each direction through
London Bridge serving Cannon Street, Blackfriars and Charing Cross. 
4. The £800 million Thameslink 2000 project goes to Public Enquiry on 27 June
00, the finalisation of the Thameslink 2000 franchise will be dependent upon the
outcome of the Public Enquiry. The proposed completion date, subject to the
completion of necessary statutory processes, and completion of construction of
Phase 2 of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, is 2006. 
5. The Franchise replacement process began in November 99. The objective of
the current programme of  negotiations is to replace most of the shorter
franchises (expiring by 2004) before the end of 2001. 
6. The New Franchise Map was announced on 20 June 00. Copies of maps can be
viewed on our website:
7. Two groups of franchises up for replacement have already been announced.
Group one included GNER, Chiltern, and Connex South Central. The second group
included South West Trains, Central and Trans-Peninne Express. 
Important Notice 
This news release is issued by the Franchising Director and its contents have
been approved for the purposes of section 57 of the Financial Services Act
1986 by KPMG Corporate Finance. 
KPMG Corporate Finance is a division of KPMG which is authorised to carry on
investment business by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and
Wales. This news release has been prepared for general information purposes
only and is not intended to form the basis of any investment decision or
constitute an offer or invitation to bid for any passenger rail franchise or
to acquire shares in a train operating company. Neither this news release nor
any copy of it should be taken into or distributed in Canada, France, Japan
or the United States except in accordance with an applicable exemption. The
distribution of this news release in other jurisdictions may be restricted by
law and therefore persons into whose possession this news release comes
should inform themselves about and observe any such restrictions. 
KPMG Corporate Finance is acting for the Franchising Director and will not
regard any other person as its client in relation to passenger railway
franchising or be responsible to anyone other than the Franchising Director
for providing the protections afforded to clients of KPMG Corporate Finance
nor for advising any other person on the contents of this news release or any
matter referred to in it.  

Media Enquiries: SSRA Press Office 0207 654 6339/6294/6234/6387

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