The Great Western and Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchises could be split under new government plans.
Rail minister Paul Maynard said the scheme would “ensure every line, station and passenger remains central to the train operator’s strategy.”
If the plans go ahead, a new West of England rail franchise would be created from the Great West franchise, providing long-distance services between London, Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall together with local and regional services across the south-west.
Operator Great Western Railway – which is owned by FirstGroup – has had its current franchise extended to March 2020 – and the DfT is looking to extend this further to 2022 – while plans are finalised.
The Great Western franchise used to be three separate franchises: Great Western Trains, Wessex Trains and Thames Trains, before they were combined in 2006.
Following the completion of the Thameslink programme, the government also intends to split the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise into two or more separate franchises. Plans could see some services given to Transport for London, including the West London line.
This franchise used to be two separate franchises until they were combined in support of the delivery of the Thameslink programme in 2014.
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