Following the announcement by the DfT of the winning bid for the South Western rail franchise, FirstGroup share this. Ed
FirstGroup and MTR welcome the Department for Transport’s intention to award the new South Western Railway franchise to their joint venture (Monday 27 March 2017).
The new franchise is due to operate from 20 August 2017 until at least August 2024. Over the course of the franchise, £1.2bn will be invested to improve every aspect of train journeys on the South Western network.
Putting Island Line onto a sustainable footing
In preparing their bid, FirstGroup and MTR listened carefully to feedback from passengers, stakeholders and community groups. FirstGroup has committed to working with Islanders and their local representatives to develop a viable future for the Island Line and put it on a sustainable footing.
This will include working with the Isle of Wight Council and other stakeholders to develop a business plan for the Island Line.
Improvements for the Island
Other key improvements and investments to the Island Line include:
- Better connectivity, with free Wi-Fi at stations
- Better connections, partnering with ferry operators to offer excellent value, flexible combined rail-sea tickets and working with Solent Transport, the local authority consortium, to integrate SolentGo into a smartcard scheme
- Better ticketing, with simple and easy ‘delay repay’ compensation for the first time; discounts for 16 to 18 year-olds for the first time; a new, innovative customer app with simpler and more convenient ways to buy tickets Cheaper season tickets for off-peak travellers and Advance Purchase fares available to/from more destinations
The plan for the new franchise also includes a focus on being a responsible part of the Island community, including ensuring all employees are paid the Living Wage; deploying an annual £50,000 Customer & Communities Improvement Fund for Island Line; and forming a close partnership with the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.
FirstGroup CEO: “Better trains, more seats and services”
FirstGroup Chief Executive Tim O’Toole said:
“We are delighted that our partnership with MTR has been selected by the DfT to run the South Western rail franchise, a key part of the country’s railway network which millions of people rely on every day.
“Our successful bid will deliver the tangible improvements that customers and stakeholders have told us they want from this franchise. Passengers can look forward to new and better trains, more seats and services, quicker journey times, improved stations and more flexible fare options.
“The Island Line has a rich history and is unique in rail transport. We look forward to working with local councillors, groups and passengers on its future.”
MTR CEO: “A major programme of upgrades”
Jeremy Long, CEO – European Business, MTR Corporation said:
“MTR is known across the world for the excellent quality of its rail services, and we look forward to working with FirstGroup to provide a best-in-class travel experience for passengers in London and the South West.
“Together we will deliver a major programme of upgrades, including improvements to both rail services and customer experience, for passengers travelling across the South Western network.”