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Monday 20 October, 2003

Strategic Rail Auth

15 Year New Welsh Franchise

Strategic Rail Authority
20 October 2003


                     15 Year New Welsh Franchise Signed

Rail passengers in Wales can look forward to an improved journey experience when
the new integrated Wales & Borders Franchise starts on 7th December 2003.

This follows the signing of a new franchise agreement with Arriva Trains Ltd to
operate the Wales & Borders franchise, which covers all local and regional train
services in Wales and the Border counties.

The key commitments contained within the new franchise include:

•        Current service levels maintained;

•        Final development of a simplified, user-friendly timetable, as well as 
         better performance and connections, planned for December 2005 for both 
         the Valley Lines and inter-urban services;

•        Introduction of seven class 150 Diesel Multiple Units planned from 
         December 2004, leading to greater operational flexibility and 
         resilience, to replace current, less suitable stock;

•        A better compensation scheme for passengers, including full refunds for 
         those customers who are delayed by more than sixty minutes;

•        Introduction of 30 new integrated bus ticket schemes (in addition to 
         those already in operation) by November 2005, allowing many new 
         opportunities for simpler through journeys;

•        Improved bi-lingual access, including a Welsh Language customer 
         service phone line, passenger timetables and information, full 
         bi-lingual signage and recorded station announcements at stations where 
         there are existing public address systems by May 2004;

•        Introduction of a new, customer-focused 'Station Adopter' scheme;

•        £400,000 on improving station car parks at Cardiff Central (Wood 
         Street), Chester, Hereford, Newport and Shrewsbury;

•        Abolition of the £1 reservation charge for bicycles on trains.


SRA Chairman, Richard Bowker, said:

'Today marks a step change in the way the railway delivers for the people of
Wales.  For the very first time, Wales will have a unified railway under a
single operational management structure.  This has all been achieved through
partnership between the Welsh Assembly Government and the SRA, and Arriva Trains
will now concentrate on what matters most to passengers - improved performance,
reliability and punctuality.'

Arriva Chief Executive, Bob Davies, said:

'The SRA announced that we were preferred bidder for the 15 year franchise at
the beginning of August and we are very pleased to have reached an agreement
which will enable us to take over the franchise on 7 December 2003.  Our focus
will be to ensure we deliver a safe railway with improved performance,
reliability and punctuality for existing and new customers.'

Andrew Davies, Wales' Minister for Economic Development and Transport, said:

'The Welsh Assembly Government has given a high priority to improving transport
infrastructure including road and rail and the development of improved public
transport on buses, community transport, trains and air.  I am looking forward
to working with Arriva to improve the existing service and to develop new
passenger services on the Vale of Glamorgan and Ebbw Valley lines.'

Notes to Editors

1.      The projected level of public subsidy, excluding Rail Passenger
Partnership (RPP) schemes and services funded directly by the Welsh Assembly
Government and local authorities, for the new integrated Wales & Borders
franchise is detailed below.

2003/04 - £43.9 million

2004/05 - £120.7 million

2005/06 - £120.1 million

2006/07 - £121.7 million

2007/08 - £119.5 million

2008/09 - £117.4 million

2009/10 - £115.7 million

2010/11 - £114.6 million

2011/12 - £112.8 million

2012/13 - £111.0 million

2013/14 - £109.4 million

2014/15 - £107.7 million

2015/16 - £105.6 million

2016/17 - £103.8 million

2017/18 - £102.0 million

2018/19 - £54.0 million



2.      The Wales & Borders franchise includes all local and regional passenger
rail services within Wales, services from Cardiff to Hereford, Shrewsbury and
Manchester, and those from Wales to Birmingham, North West England and the West
Country.  These services are currently operated under existing franchise
agreements by National Express Group plc, using the 'Wales & Borders' branding.

3.      The new franchise will include the operation of all stations in Wales,
and those predominantly served by the new franchise in the border counties,
including Chester, Shrewsbury and Hereford. It will include the current
Passenger Service Requirement as well as additional service commitments.

4.      Long-distance high-speed services to and from Wales will continue to be
operated by First Great Western, Virgin CrossCountry and Virgin West Coast.


For further details contact the SRA Press Office: 020 7654 6339/6862/6387/6234

Latest news and announcements from the SRA can be viewed on our website 
www.sra.gov.uk


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