Stagecoach have lost the franchise to run train services locally; Statement :
FirstGroup plc and MTR Corporation Limited welcome today’s announcement by the Department for Transport (‘DfT’) of its intention to award the new South Western rail franchise to our 70:30 joint venture First MTR South Western Trains Limited (the ‘Franchise Operator’).
The new franchise will operate from 20 August 2017 until at least August 2024.
Over the course of the franchise, £1.2bn will be invested to raise the quality of every aspect of train journeys on the South Western network.
We are giving customers and community groups a say in setting priorities for that investment by focusing on the following areas, based on their feedback:
State of the art trains: We will introduce 750 new, spacious train carriages for the Windsor, Reading and London Suburban routes by December 2020, as well as 18 additional, fully refurbished trains (90 carriages) on the London-Portsmouth route from December 2018.
We shall deliver 52,000 more peak seats per day at London Waterloo compared to today’s services by December 2020.
The rest of our mainland fleet will be refreshed and will have free, more reliable Wi-Fi, at-seat charging points and free infotainment as well as real time travel and connection information screens.
Additional and faster services: From December 2018 our plans will deliver faster journey times to stations including Hounslow, Reading, Southampton,Bournemouth, Weymouth, Portsmouth and Salisbury;
double the service to both Reading and Windsor throughout the day; double the off-peak service between Southampton and Portsmouth and re-introduce through services between Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth to aid regional connectivity.
We will also significantly improve weekend services with more than 400 extraSunday trains across the network.
Easier tickets and fares: We will introduce simpler fares with mobile and smart ticketing. These will include flexible season tickets and new lower fares for 16-18 year olds, recognising the importance of accessible rail travel.
Claiming compensation will also be made simpler with the introduction of an easy-to-use ‘delay repay’ scheme for the first time on the network.
Our new passenger app will be a key gateway to all travel options throughout the region.
Station improvement: £90m will be invested in our stations, including a major refurbishment at Southampton Central station.
Car parks will be extended at key locations with at least 1,500 extra spaces and new electric vehicle charging points.
We will use station buildings to host community projects and independent retailers. Passengers will also benefit from this summer’s London Waterloo platform extension project that is scheduled for completion within days of the start of the new franchise.
Further capacity at Waterloo will be introduced at the end of 2018 when the former Waterloo International platforms are fully redeveloped and brought back into use.
People and communities: An important objective is to increase engagement with customers, employees, local authorities and community groups to give them a real stake in the future of rail travel in their area.
We will launch a £2.6m annual fund to support community projects across the franchise from April 2020.
Connections between other local rail and bus services will deliver genuine joined up journeys, and we plan to introduce the biggest rail operator apprenticeship scheme in Britain.
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I was shocked to find out that the Tory run New Forest District Council is now spending annually up to £700,000 of taxpayer’s money on putting up people in temporary housing, such as Bed & Breakfast accommodation in Travelodge Hotels.