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NEW FRANCHISE SET BENCHMARK FOR LONG TERM RAIL INVESTMENT

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New franchise deals announced by the shadow strategic rail authority ...
New franchise deals announced by the shadow strategic rail authority

will secure long term investment for rail, provide real passenger

benefits and improve integration, deputy prime minister John Prescott

said.

'They are concrete proof of our commitment to invest in public

transport, in accordance with our Ten Year Plan.'

Mr Prescott was responding to the announcement by the sSRA of newly

negotiated contracts, under which:

- M40, the preferred operator for a new Chiltern Trains franchise,

plan to invest, with Railtrack, up to£370m; and Midland

Mainline will invest£238m following the negotiation of an

extension to their franchise from 10 to 12 years.

The terms of the new agreements will secure better train services for

passengers, new routes, tougher penalties for poor performance and a

share for the public in financial success.

Mr Prescott said:

'When this government came to office three years ago the regulators

lacked enforcement powers and the franchises were short term without

proper incentive for development and further investment.

'To tackle this, I gave new guidance to the franchising director to

put passengers first. I set up the strategic rail authority, in

shadow form to begin with, and charged the SRA with renegotiating

the present short term franchises to get more investment and better

standards for passengers.

'Our 10 Year Plan includes£60bn for the railways to modernise the

network and to provide for the 50% growth in demand that we expect.

Today we are announcing the first step in new public-private

contracts to secure this investment. New agreements will secure an

investment package of£600m by Chiltern Trains and Midland Mainline.

Our whole approach to transport is illustrated by these agreements:

- a partnership between the public and private sectors

- greater integration

- more accountability

'The agreement between the sSRA and Chiltern Trains is the first

manifestation of the policy of renegotiating franchises: more

services, more often, and in quicker time; running on better track,

with improved signals and stations; and with better integration -

not just for rail users but for motorists, cyclists, bus users and

pedestrians.'

Mr Prescott added:

'Integration is about getting more out of our existing

infrastructure. There are real examples in these agreements. The

Warwick Park and Ride Station is being built on the Chiltern Line

which will offer motorists on the M40 easier access to the rail

network, giving them a real choice. In addition, they have plans for

a West Hampstead Interchange which will link the Underground,

Thameslink and Silverlink's North London Line to the Chiltern Line.

'The East Midlands Parkway Station on the Midland Mainline will

enable the users of East Midlands Airport, the M1 and the railway to

switch modes far more easily.'

'In addition, with the Midland Mainline agreement, for the first time

the sSRA will share in profits beyond a certain level - the public

sector will share in the upside.

'The two agreements are good news for passengers. They set a

benchmark for others to follow.

'This shows that public transport is once again a growth industry and

we are determined to get the 'investment, investment, investment' to

deliver a better deal for passengers.'

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