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Monday 22 December, 2003

Strategic Rail Auth

High speed services for Kent

Strategic Rail Authority
22 December 2003

                   Green Light for High Speed Services for Kent

                  Four Bidders Selected for new Kent Franchise

The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) today confirmed that it was proceeding with
its plans for domestic services on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) as part
of the new Integrated Kent Franchise (IKF), and to place an order for a fleet of
new trains to operate these services.

The Authority also announced today that four bidders have been selected to
compete for the new Integrated Kent Franchise, which will provide services to
Kent, South East London and parts of Sussex from early 2005.

The four selected bidders are:

•        DSB (Danish State Railways)
•        GNER Holdings Ltd
•        First Kent Integrated Railways Ltd (FirstGroup plc)
•        London South Eastern Railway Ltd (consortium of Go-Ahead Group and 

All four will be sent an initial Invitation to Tender for the new franchise
shortly.  A final tender document will be issued in the Summer of 2004 following
a consultation on the proposed service specification.  The document will request
bids for operating services on the existing network with the addition of
domestic services on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link from 2007.

Nicola Shaw, SRA's Managing Director, Operations said:

'The selection of bidders is the next step towards a new private operator for
the franchise. Robust competition between the four bidders will ensure that the
best operator is chosen.  The inclusion of domestic services on the CTRL will
bring major benefits for passengers with new trains and faster journey times.'

Notes to Editors

1.      In December 2003, the SRA received the Secretary of State's approval to
progress with plans to include domestic services on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link
(CTRL) as part of the Integrated Kent Franchise (IKF).

2.      The SRA will continue the process for ordering trains to operate the
domestic services.

3.      The Integrated Kent Franchise will include routes on the national rail
network currently operated by South Eastern Trains throughout Kent, parts of
Sussex and South East London, and the new CTRL services.

4.      In October 2003, the SRA undertook a consultation on the principle of an
Integrated Kent Franchise and a further consultation will be held in early 2004
on the service specification for the new franchise.

5.      In November 2003, the operation of services on the South East network
transferred from Connex to South Eastern Trains, acting on behalf of the SRA.
Once the IKF competition is complete, South Eastern Trains will hand over
operations to the successful bidder for the Integrated Kent Franchise.

6.      The SRA also made announcements today on: the Thames Trains Franchise
and the Preferred Bidder for the Greater Anglia Franchise.

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

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