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Improving Performance on First Great Western

"Final chance" for franchise

Bristol Labour MPs have spoken out in support of tough new Government measures which should ease the commute for thousands of train users in the region.  The Transport Secretary, Ruth Kelly, has announced a range of measures to address unacceptably high levels of train cancellations by First Great Western, who run most trains in the Bristol area, including the Bristol to London service.  These include providing additional rolling stock, employing more drivers and guards and setting targets which the Department for Transport will regularly review.  First Great Western have also agreed to fund £29 million package of passenger benefits which will see increased compensation for season ticket holders, more cheap fares and an upgrade of customer information systems on stations. 

Failure to deliver these new commitments could lead to the Government terminating their contract.  It follows months of passenger protest over late arriving and cancelled trains.  Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy described the situation as “last chance saloon” for the rail operator.  Kerry added: 

“Rail passengers in the South West are tired of apologies and poor performance from First Great Western, and I am pleased to hear that the Government is taking action. 

We need to see a dramatic improvement to the rail network in our area, and I hope the measures announced this morning will ensure that passengers now get a fair deal and a reliable service.”

Bristol South MP Dawn Primarolo said:

"I have repeatedly written to First Great Western about problems with their services and am very pleased that the Government is taking action to ensure that performance improves. This really is in my view the final chance for them to improve their service.”

Ruth Kelly said:

“The performance of First Great Western has fallen persistently short of customers' expectations and has been unacceptable to both passengers and Government.

The £29m package of benefits agreed with First Great Western will make a real difference to passengers. It includes over 500,000 cheaper tickets on the busiest routes, extra carriages between Cardiff and Portsmouth and vastly increases investment in the refurbishment of Thames Valley commuter trains.

The measures I have announced today will lead to a reduction in train cancellations and also provide a substantial package of benefits to First Great Western's customers.”

[26 February 2008]

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