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Tuesday 01 April, 2003

Strategic Rail Auth

Five qualify for Northern

Strategic Rail Authority
1 April 2003




                                                                    1 April 2003

                    Five Qualify For New Northern Rail Franchise

The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) announced today that five parties have 
qualified as bidders for the new Northern Rail franchise, under the terms of the 
new franchise policy published last Autumn.

•        The parties are: Arriva Trains Ltd; Eurailco UK Ltd (a consortium of 
         Transdev plc & RATP Developpment); FirstGroup plc; GB Railways Plc; 
         Serco Rail/Netherlands Railways

•        The SRA's new franchising policy marks a radical departure for 
         passengers and operators.  It provides train companies with clear 
         guidelines and incentives on customer service and on business 
         priorities.

•        The new franchise will provide inter-urban, commuter and rural services 
         throughout the North of England and is expected to commence in late 
         Summer 2004.

•        The franchise will be of up to seven years' duration, depending on 
         final bids.

•        In the next stage of the franchising process the SRA will invite the 
         five parties to submit detailed bids.

•        The SRA expects to announce a preferred bidder in Spring 2004.

Richard Bowker, SRA Chairman said:

'The essence of the new franchise policy is to give greater clarity and
certainty to bidders about what we expect on behalf of passengers.  The
qualification threshold was set at a very demanding level indeed to ensure the
best possible competition on behalf of passengers and taxpayers.  This
franchising revolution is a very real step towards the industry presenting
itself as fit for purpose to passengers and investors.'

Notes to Editors

1.      The SRA announced on 3 February 2003 that Arriva Trains Northern (ATN) 
will continue to operate services until the Northern Rail franchise commences in 
late summer 2004.

2.      The new Northern Rail franchise will incorporate rural and urban
services throughout the whole of the North of England, including in and around
the Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Tyne & Wear
Passenger Transport Executive (PTE) areas.  It will also be responsible for a
number of services running from, and into, the Merseyside and West Midlands PTE
areas.

3.      Existing ATN fast services on longer journeys between major towns and
cities, and Manchester International Airport (MIA) services, as well as some
First North Western services also to MIA, will transfer to the new TransPennine
Express franchise in late 2003.  The SRA announced on 6 November 2002 that it
had invited two bidders (Connex Transport UK Ltd and First Group/Keolis SA) to
move to the final stage of the replacement process for the TransPennine Express
franchise.


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

                                        Or visit the website on www.sra.gov.uk






                      This information is provided by RNS
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