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Friday 07 May, 2004

Strategic Rail Auth

Prequalification Announcement

Strategic Rail Authority
07 May 2004

                                                                      7 May 2004


            Four Pre-Qualify for InterCity East Coast Franchise


The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) today announced that four parties have
successfully pre-qualified as bidders for the new InterCity East Coast
franchise.  The parties are:

     
•    DSB (Danish Railways)

•    First London, Scottish and North East Railway Ltd (FirstGroup plc)

•    Great North Eastern Railway Ltd (Sea Containers Ltd)

•    inter city-railways (consortium of Deutsche Bahn AG, Stagecoach Group plc 
     and Virgin Group Investments Ltd)

In the next stage of the franchising process, the SRA will invite the four
parties to submit detailed bids.  The SRA expects to announce a preferred bidder
this winter, with the successful company running passenger rail services on the
East Coast Main Line from 1 May 2005.

SRA Chairman Richard Bowker said:

'All of these parties are strong players with considerable rail experience.  It
is particularly good to see strong international participation.  The parties had
to reach a high threshold to pre-qualify, and we now look forward to inviting
them to submit detailed bids outlining what they will do for passengers and
taxpayers.'


Notes to Editors
     
1.   The incumbent franchisee is GNER Holdings Ltd, whose Great North Eastern 
     Railway franchise is due to expire at the end of April 2005.
     
2.   The franchise will continue to provide intercity passenger services 
     principally between London, parts of East Anglia, the East Midlands, 
     Yorkshire, Humberside, the North East and Scotland along the East Coast 
     Main Line and other routes.  The new franchise will be for seven years, 
     with an extension of three years provided the franchisee meets agreed 
     performance criteria.


For further details contact the SRA Press Office on 020 7654 6339/6862/6387/6294
                       Or visit the website at www.sra.gov.uk


                      This information is provided by RNS
            The company news service from the London Stock Exchange                                                                                                                                                  

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