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Friday 18 February, 2000

Shadow StrategicRail

Northern Spirit/Merseyrail

Shadow Strategic Rail Authority
18 February 2000

     Franchising Director Agrees Change of Control on Northern Spirit and
                     Merseyrail Electrics Franchises

A change of ownership for the Northern Spirit (NS) and Merseyrail Electrics
(MEL) passenger rail franchises, both previously operated by MTL Rail Ltd, was
agreed in principle by Mike Grant, Franchising Director and Chief Executive of
the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority today. 

With effect from 00.01 hours on Friday, 18 February 2000, the new owner of these
networks will be Arriva plc, whose group will hold the franchise rights for
twelve months to 18 February 2001. The SSRA is currently conducting a
competitive programme of franchise replacement negotiations. Arriva have assumed
ownership on the understanding that both Northern Spirit and Merseyrail
Electrics will be renegotiated on this basis, following expiry of their twelve
month tenure.  

Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive, co signatory with the SSRA on the MEL
franchise, have also given their consent in principle to the change.

Services on both networks will be maintained at current levels. There will be no
change to the levels of operating subsidy  contributed by the SSRA and the local
Passenger Transport Executives in West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Greater
Manchester, Tyne & Wear, and Merseyside, which also remains as originally
negotiated with MTL.

Note to Editors

The Franchising Director's approval is subject to completion of legal
documentation which, once completed, will be placed on his public register.

           Media Enquiries: SSRA Press Office 0207 940 4339 / 4294

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