FirstGroup wins franchise to run trains from London Waterloo

FirstGroup wins franchise to run trains from London Waterloo

It was reported widely across the press that Stagecoach Group has lost the franchise to run South West Trains to a consortium of FirstGroup and Hong Kong’s MTR. The Financial Times Robert Wright reported that South West has had the same operator since privatisation in 1996, longer than any other British rail franchise. The DfT’s decision will be a boost for FirstGroup, which will take over in August. The Daily Telegraph’s Sam Dean also reported that the investment is split 70% in favour of FirstGroup, with chief executive Tim O’Toole saying: “MTR approached us. When we put in our expression of interest it was just FirstGroup, but it made perfect sense to partner with them because of the heavy commuter component of this franchise, and we knew we could benefit from MTR’s very disciplined approach.”

The Guardian’s Gwyn Topham and Matthew Weaver added that the RMT union condemned handing the franchise over to a state-controlled foreign operator and said MTR was set to make ‘a killing at the British taxpayers’ expense’. General secretary Mick Cash said the contract would mean about 75% of UK rail routes would soon be run by state-owned international operators, after an Italian state group took over c2c. Alistair Osborne, commenting in The Times, refers to Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths: “He needs to cut East Coast payments to the taxpayer. There’s a cost to his derailment on South West Trains.”

Image: Let’s Go Out Bournemouth

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