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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 July, 2003, 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK
Concern over rail enquiries move
Call centre
Call centres have grown rapidly in recent years
The jobs of 500 staff at the National Rail Enquiry Service in Derby could be at risk after the operation was put up for tender.

The Association of Train Operating Companies, which awards the contract, announced it would consider foreign bids.

The seven-year contract, thought to be worth tens of millions of pounds, is currently jointly-run by First Information, Serco and BT.

The new operator is expected to be named by the end of the year.

A spokesman for ATOC says it has not yet received any offers to take over the running of the service, but it is prepared to consider any bids from overseas.

Robin Wood from the East Midlands Rail Users watchdogs believes customers will lose out if the service is sold abroad.

He said: "We often see call centres from India and other parts of the world that under cut for all sorts of services.

"But there is nothing to substitute for local knowledge."

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