The government is promising that rail passengers will enjoy “high quality” services as part of its latest franchising programme.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said that the government was unveiling an “ambitious” plan for the renewal of the UK’s rail franchises.
The new schedule includes a detailed timetable for the latest round of rail franchise competitions: Inter City West Coast, East Anglia, South Western, East Midlands and West Midlands.
“It is making it clear to the whole rail industry that competition for rail franchises is the best way to secure services for passengers at good value for the taxpayer,” said McLoughlin in a written statement to Parliament.
“Through our plan for the railways we are making journeys better for everyone – we are reducing crowding, cutting journey times and improving trains and stations across the country. This supports our regional economies, creating jobs and opportunities and connecting people to business.
“Private sector competition is good for passengers, local communities and taxpayers. I am confident that through these franchises we will deliver the rail network this country needs.”
The next new franchise to be awarded is East Anglia with a decision due to be announced in June. Abellio, First and National Express have all launched bids for the nine-year franchise which is expected to start in October 2016.
This will be followed by the South Western franchise operating from London’s Waterloo station. First and Stagecoach have been shortlisted for the new franchise beginning in June 2017 - a decision on the winning bid is expected in February 2017.
The winners of the new contracts for both West Midlands and West Coast franchises are also be announced in 2017.