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Friday 17 September, 2004

Strategic Rail Auth

Silverlink franchise extended

Strategic Rail Authority
17 September 2004

                                                               17 September 2004

                     Two-Year Silverlink Trains Deal Signed

The SRA has signed a two-year extension with incumbent franchisee National
Express Group PLC to operate the Silverlink passenger rail franchise until
October 2006.

The extension delivers certainty for Silverlink passengers during a period of
change and renewal on the West Coast Main Line.  27 September 2004 sees the
first stage in the introduction of a radical new timetable on the Line, with new
tilting trains delivering significantly faster journey times on Virgin services
to major destinations between London and Glasgow.

The Silverlink deal secures the introduction of more carriages on key services
between Northampton and London Euston via Milton Keynes - ensuring in particular
that overall commuter capacity for Milton Keynes is maintained when Virgin
Trains ceases to call there during core peak hours.

Silverlink's ability to deliver the additional capacity on its route will
incorporate initially the use of  locomotive-hauled carriages leased as part of
the franchise agreement, and from Summer 2005 brand new Class 350 Desiro trains.

Notes to Editors

1. Silverlink County currently operates between London Euston, Milton
Keynes and Birmingham New Street via Northampton, together with a branch linking
Bletchley with Bedford and a branch service between Watford Junction and St
Albans Abbey.  From September 2004 County services will terminate at
Northampton, as part of major changes to the West Coast Main Line timetable,
with Central Trains taking over services between Northampton and Birmingham.
Silverlink Metro services operate between Richmond and North Woolwich via
Willesden and Stratford, together with branches linking Willesden Junction with
Clapham Junction and Gospel Oak with Barking, and local services from Watford
Junction to London Euston.

2. The current Silverlink franchise has been extended from 17 October 2004
to 17 October 2006.

3. The extension secures the continuation of all Silverlink Metro (London
area) services required under the existing franchise agreement.  The deal
includes options for the continued provision of additional services on the North
London Line and for enhanced services on the West London Line, which are both
subject to a funding agreement with Transport for London (TfL).

4. The additional capacity on services between Northampton and London
Euston services will be provided in the form of 12 carriage trains on a number
of key peak services, in place of current 8 carriage trains.

5. The West Coast Route Modernisation is delivering platform extensions so
that the 12 car trains can call at intermediate stations between London and
Northampton when using the 'slow' lines from September 27.  The Modernisation
also sees the 'slow' line maximum speed increase from 90 mile/h to 100 mile/h
between London and Northampton from December 2005.

6. The introduction of 30 Class 350 Desiro trains for both Silverlink and
Central Trains services, along with a new depot facility at Northampton, will be
formally contracted by a variation to the extension agreement.  The deal between
National Express Group, Angel Trains and Siemens to provide these new trains was
announced on 23 August 2004.

7. The projected level of public subsidy for the extension of the franchise
from October 2004 to October 2006 is £120.2 million in nominal terms.

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

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