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Tuesday, 20 June, 2000, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
Plan for single Welsh rail franchise
train coming in to station
Competition is fierce to run the rail network
Plans for a new railway map for Britain envisage Wales and its borders being run by a single company.

The plans, which are still subject to change, were drawn up by the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority (SSRA) which said its intention was to "revitalise the network" at a time when passenger levels were rising sharply.

The proposals outline a new franchise for Wales which will replace four existing franchises "which have no clear focus".

Over all, the 25 existing UK-wide passenger train franchises will be reduced to 22, with some being changed, and others being absorbed into new franchise areas.

The map redrawing has been welcomed by the government, the train companies and by the main passenger group, the Rail Passengers Council.

Heavy investment

But the council said the franchise changes would only work if they were accompanied by heavy investment in the network.

SSRA chairman Sir Alastair Morton said: "Our guiding principle is to improve service, not to introduce change for change's sake.

"What we are proposing is a map that will revitalise the network, with franchise areas designed to relate better to each other and to provide improved accessibility for passengers."

The changes are announced as the SSRA copes with the replacement of the 18 short-term franchises existing under the current rail map.

"The final detailed shape of the franchises created will only be set once the plans of those bidding to run the franchises have been considered."

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