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Thursday 01 July, 2004

Strategic Rail Auth

Northern Rail Franchise

Strategic Rail Authority
1 July 2004

                                                                                                            1 July 2004
                 Serco Rail/Ned Railways Announced as Preferred Bidder for new Northern Rail Franchise

The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) today announced that it has selected Serco Rail/Ned Railways as Preferred Bidder for
the new Northern Rail franchise.

The new franchise will provide inter-urban, commuter and rural services throughout the North of England and is planned
to start in the Autumn.

•        The duration of the franchise will be up to eight years and nine months - the final two years dependent on
achieving performance targets.

•        The franchise will provide the existing levels of rail services and will include contractualised, specified
targets for year on year reductions in cancellations and improved punctuality.

•        A financial penalty/incentive regime will ensure quality of station and train facilities over the whole of the

•        The announcement follows a rigorous competition.  Subject to the SRA's requirements being met, it will sign an
agreement with Serco Rail/Ned Railways later this year, at which point further details of the new franchise will be

SRA Chairman Richard Bowker said:

'This will be the second franchise to be let under the SRA's new-style contract, which sets clear requirements for
delivery to passengers and clear rewards for train operators when they do. This competition, like all competitions
under the new franchise policy, has been hard fought, driving up quality for passengers and value for taxpayers.'

Notes to Editors

1.      The qualified bidders announced on 1 April 2003 were: Arriva Trains Ltd, Eurailco UK Ltd (a consortium of
Transdev plc & RATP Development), First Group plc, Serco Rail/Ned Railways and GB Railways Plc (which has subsequently
become a wholly-owned subsidiary of FirstGroup plc).

2.      The SRA announced on 18 December 2003 that it had shortlisted FirstGroup plc and Serco/Ned Railways for the

3.      The SRA announced on 3 February 2003 that Arriva Trains Northern (ATN) would continue to operate services until
the Northern Rail franchise commences and on 29 March 2004 that First North Western would continue to operate services
until the Northern Rail franchise commences.

4.      The 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 PTE area.

5.      ATN inter-urban 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, transferred to the new TransPennine
Express franchise, operated by FirstGroup Keolis (FGK) on 1 February 2004.

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

                                        Or visit the website at

                      This information is provided by RNS
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