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Stuart Francis, Rail Users' Committee
"This process is providing good ideas"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 12:40 GMT
Rail routes shake-up unveiled
Train
Franchises were created when British Rail was privatised
Plans to redraw the map of the UK's railways in an attempt to improve passenger services have been unveiled.

The Shadow Strategic Rail Authority (SSRA) has created a new franchise for the trans-Pennine express route which links key cities in the north-west with those in the north-east.

The route, currently operated by Northern Spirit, is to be developed into a high-quality, limited-stop service.

The SSRA is also looking into the feasibilty of creating a "Wales Rail" franchise, providing the core of services within Wales, but excluding long-distance services offered by Great Western and Virgin Trains.

This would mirror the situation in Scotland where Scotrail runs most services.

The authority is renewing the Central Trains franchise, possibly excluding services west of Shrewsbury and the South West Trains franchise, with a remit to deal with increasing capacity problems at London Waterloo.

Investment incentive

The moves are aimed at improving services for passengers and increasing investment in the rail network.

Although most of the network's 25 passenger franchises expire in 2003 and 2004, a series have come up for replacement.

The SSRA was set up by the government in July 1999 to provide a focus and strategic direction for Britain's railways, to encourage investment and manage the passenger rail franchises.

SSRA chairman Sir Alastair Morton has pledged to introduce longer franchises "in which there will be value for the franchise owner, derived from longer terms and modified subsidy, in return for commitments to high levels of investment and service".

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24 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Prescott pledges safe railways
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