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New FGW franchise to build on improvements

4 December 2013  •  Author(s): First Great Western

Running services out of London Paddington, across the South and West of England and South Wales, the former Greater Western franchise began operating on 1 April 2006. Operated by First Group and branded as First Great Western, the network combines the previous Great Western Intercity, London and Thames Valley, and West Country regional franchises. A second, 23-month franchise agreement began on 14 October 2013.

The First Great Western story Running over 1,550 trains a day, First Great Western (FGW) manages 210 stations and calls at a further 60 across the South West network. First Group made the decision in 2011 not to take up a contractually permitted three-year extension to the franchise, with a view to retendering for a longer-term agreement.

The decision enabled the Department for Transport (DfT) to develop plans for a longerterm franchise that would benefit from and help to deliver a number of major schemes, including electrification of a significant part of the network, the completion of Crossrail and the introduction of the Intercity Express Programme bi-mode trains. First Group was shortlisted to submit a bid for this longer-term franchise, which was due to begin in July 2013 and run for 15 years, but this process was delayed following the decision in October 2012 by the DfT to pause its franchising programme.

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