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Monday, 27 November, 2000, 12:28 GMT
Connex bids for Welsh franchise
Connex train
Connex is one of the bidders for the all Wales franchise
The French rail company Connex which was stripped of a franchise in the London area for poor performance has confirmed that it is bidding to run trains in Wales.

Seven bidders are believed to have submitted their plans for the new "all Wales" franchise to the rail regulators.

The final deadline for submission to the rail regulator arrived on Monday.

Seven companies are competing for the franchise, which will be awarded early next year.

Bidders must show how they will improve services
They include First Group and National Express, together with the security firm, Group Four.

All must show how they plan to improve services

The new franchise is designed to simplify and improve a rail network which is currently shared between four different operating companies.

The successful bidder will take over all regional and local train routes in and around Wales and the borders.

Some routes to Manchester, Birmingham and London Waterloo are included - inter city services to Paddington and Euston are not.

Preferred operator'

Apart from the security firm Group Four - the list of contenders includes no surprises.

First Group and National Express already operate trains in Wales - GB Railways has a franchise in England.

The companies who will be submitting proposals for places on the shortlist and selection as preferred operator are understood to include: Arriva plc, Connex Transport UK Ltd, First Group PLC, GB Railways Group PLC , Group 4 Management Services Limited, Prism Rail PLC, Serco Rail (a division of Serco Limited) and Via GTI (Générale de Transport et d'Industrie).

Mike Grant, Franchising Director and Chief Executive of the SSRA said: "I am delighted by the strong field of quality contenders we have assembled to submit proposals for this important franchise.

"One operator will in future run the majority of services in Wales on a dedicated network better tailored to the needs of local people.

"To secure this franchise, potential operators must table plans capable of delivering step changes in service quality.

"I will conduct an exacting competition, where innovation and investment will be important in reaching my final decision, as will track record," he added.

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