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Friday 11 June, 2004

Strategic Rail Auth

ScotRail preferred bidder

Strategic Rail Authority
11 June 2004

                                                                    11 June 2004


     FirstGroup plc Announced as Preferred Bidder for New Scottish Passenger 
                                  Rail Franchise


The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) today announced that FirstGroup plc  has been 
selected as Preferred Bidder for the Scottish Passenger Rail Franchise.

•    The new seven year franchise will start operating in Scotland from Sunday 
     17 October 2004.

•    This franchise is consistent with the SRA's revised franchise policy, which 
     sets out clearer requirements for the service to be delivered to 
     passengers, and is in accordance with the Scottish Executive's 
     specification.

Welcoming the announcement, SRA Chairman, Richard Bowker said:

'This announcement is a critical milestone in delivering better rail services
for Scotland. It follows a healthy competition among the bidders, all of whom
put in strong bids, and we have worked closely with the Scottish Executive and
Strathclyde Passenger Transport reletting teams to achieve this excellent
result. This franchise will deliver greater certainty for passengers, clarity
for the franchisee and stability for investors. It should bring about an overall
improvement in punctuality with further passenger benefits including better
customer information, greater security through enhanced CCTV facilities, and
improvements to train and station cleanliness.'


Notes to Editors
1.   This franchise has been awarded in accordance with the Directions and
     Guidance given to the SRA by Scottish Ministers in July 2002.
2.   The franchise will run for seven years with specified performance
     targets and a possible three year extension could be available.
3.   The introduction of the Scottish Executive funded new rolling stock will 
     make a significant contribution to improvements in passenger services in 
     this new franchise. This will be supported by a new depot at Eastfield and
     improvements to depots in Haymarket, Perth and Inverness, along with 
     platform extensions, jointly funded by the SRA and the SE.
4.   In March 2003 the SRA announced that four companies had prequalified as 
     bidders - Arriva Trains Ltd, FirstGroup plc, National Express Group Plc and 
     Serco NS. Serco NS subsequently withdrew from the competition.
5.   The existing franchise held by National Express Group Plc expires on 17 
     October 2004.
6.   This new franchise covers all existing rail services that start and end in 
     Scotland and cross-border sleeper services.
7.   The SRA's franchising policy can be found on the SRA website, 
     www.sra.gov.uk.
8.   In the case of this franchise the SRA acted as the procurement agent on the 
     Scottish Executive's behalf.
9.   Subject to its requirements being met, the SRA will sign an agreement with 
     the Preferred Bidder in the summer, at which point further details of the 
     new franchise will be announced.


For further details contact the SRA Press Office on 020 7654 6339/ 6387 /6234/
6862 or SRA office in Scotland on 0141 221 7760. The Scottish Executive Press
Office can be contacted on 0131 244 2614



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