United Kingdom: The Department for Transport has signed contracts with GWR and Southeastern so that important rail services across the South East, South West and South Wales can continue.
The government has signed new agreements with Govia and FirstGroup that will protect jobs during the coronavirus outbreak. The rail services will give those who can’t work from home a means to get to work and keep vital services running.
The Department for Transport says that these direct awards “will allow services to be stepped up when the rail network returns to normal following disruption from COVID-19.”
The improvements by GWR include introducing new capacity in both the Bristol and Exeter areas.
Southeastern passengers, meanwhile, will get more capacity during peak times and more front-line staff are to be recruited to help passengers with their journeys.
“We are taking decisive action across the board to ensure vital rail services continue, allowing those people who cannot work at home to get to work – particularly our NHS, emergency services and other vital industries.
“These contracts will keep services running in the short-term but also are positive news for passengers in the future, focusing on more reliable services, extra capacity and improvements to the stations they use every day.”
The DfT says these agreements will run alongside the emergency measures agreements announced previously, as a result of which the government will temporarily take on both the revenue and cost risk associated with individual franchises.
GWR, which is owned by FirstGroup, has been granted a direct contract with a runtime of three years. This is extendable to four years. Southeastern is owned by Govia. It too has been granted a direct contract. This one has a runtime for up to two years.
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