FirstGroup takes ScotRail franchise in £1.9bn deal
FirstGroup was today confirmed as the new operator of Scotland’s railways in a £1.9 billion deal which makes the company the largest public transport operator in the country.
FirstGroup will take over running the franchise from current operator National Express in October. The new franchise will run for seven years with the option to extend it for an extra three.
Transport minister Nicol Stephen welcomed the Strategic Rail Authority’s announcement of the deal, saying, “Passengers can expect more reliable and customer-friendly train services. There will be significant investment in new trains, new rail lines and better stations.
“The deal creates a solid foundation for major improvements to Scotland’s rail network.”
However, a report by the Competition Commission warned that the takeover would mean fare increases and poorer services for bus passengers.
FirstGroup said customers would see improved punctuality and reliability, and increased passenger capacity. The company plans to introduce almost 30 new trains providing around 5,900 more seats throughout Scotland.
There are also plans to reduce overcrowding so that no-one should have to wait more than 10 minutes for a seat.
Mary Dickson, managing director for First ScotRail, said, “We are delighted to have reached agreement in terms of the First ScotRail franchise.
“This new partnership marks a fresh start for Scotland’s railways and an exciting time for First ScotRail.
“We are committed to improving rail services across Scotland and are making a real investment in rail infrastructure to improve reliability, punctuality, performance and enhance customer service.
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