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Last Updated: Monday, 13 September, 2004, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Historic rail firm 'could return'
Gatwick Express
Gatwick Express would merge with a London-Brighton franchise
The former London and North Western Railway (LNWR) could be recreated under government plans to slash the number of rail franchises, a report says.

Industry magazine Rail says a franchise styled on LNWR could emerge from plans to merge several operators running on the West Coast Main Line.

LNWR ran services between London and the north-west between 1846 and 1923.

The proposals would see the number of rail franchises reduced from 25 to 16 by 2011, the magazine reports.

White Paper

Earlier this year, the government's transport White Paper proposed reducing the number of operators to improve performance and cut costs.

Under the reported proposals, the LNWR-style franchise would come from merging Virgin West Coast, London-to-Watford commuter operator Silverlink and services that Central is to start running between Birmingham and the north-west.

LNWR became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1923, one of the "big four" companies nationalised in 1948 to form British Railways, later British Rail.

Rail also reports the following proposed changes:

  • The Midlands service Central Trains would disappear by 2007. Chiltern Railways would take over south Midlands operations. North Midlands services would be handled by a new Northern franchise incorporating Arriva Trains Northern and First North Western.

  • Virgin CrossCountry could get the opportunity to expand its services to the east coast and east Anglia - the only part of the UK it does not currently serve.

  • Island Line, on the Isle of Wight, and South West Trains, both run by Stagecoach, would be merged.

  • The National Express Group's London Fenchurch Street-to-Southend operator C2C would become part of its One franchise.

  • Great Northern services from King's Cross to Peterborough would be merged with Bedford-Brighton operator Thameslink.

  • Gatwick Express would merge with London Victoria-Brighton operator Southern by 2007.

A spokesman for the Strategic Rail Authority pointed out that there was "no definitive plan at this stage and no decisions have been taken".

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