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Friday 01 April, 2005

Strategic Rail Auth

Re: Rail Franchises

Strategic Rail Authority
01 April 2005

April 1st 2005.

The Strategic Rail Authority today announced the pre-qualified bidders for two
new passenger rail franchises.

Greater Western

National Express Group PLC

FirstGroup plc

Stagecoach Group


Thameslink/Great Northern

National Express Group PLC

FirstGroup plc

Stagecoach Group

MTR /John Laing plc


Danish Railways (DSB) / English, Welsh and Scottish Railways (EWS)

Notes to Editors:

1.   The new Greater Western franchise will be made up of the existing Great
Western, Great Western Link and Wessex Trains franchises and will run from April
1st 2006 for a period of 7 years plus 3 extra years automatic extension if
agreed performance targets are met.

2.      The new Thameslink/Great Northern franchise will be made up of the
existing Thameslink franchise and the Great Northern network, which is currently
the WAGN franchise.  The franchise is expected to begin operations on April 1st
2006 for 4 years plus 2 extra years if agreed performance targets are met with a
possible further extension for up to 3 years to facilitate work on the
Thameslink 2000 project.

                     SRA Press Office 020 7654 6339 / 6858

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