Stephen Mosley MP has welcomed the news that First West Coast have promised an improved service in their successful bid to run the West Coast Mainline.
On the decision to hand the franchise to First Group, and addressing concerns regarding Virgin losing the bid, City of Chester MP, Stephen Mosley, said:
“Whilst Virgin have provided a good service for the last 15 years, we cannot look back. It is time to look forward to the next 15 years, and First have promised to do more for less. I am fully supportive of the Government’s decision to award the franchise to the best bid, and look forward to seeing an even better rail service!”
The Government’s decision to grant the franchise to First was based on their bid which was both financially more lucrative for the Government and offered greater improvements to the West Coast’s service than its rival bidders.
As a result, rail passengers across the West Coast Mainline, including those in Chester, will benefit from a package of improvements that includes more trains and more seats. Key parts of this deal include:
- More Seats: Eleven new six-car electric trains will deliver around 12,000 extra seats a day, from December 2016. This is in addition to the 106 extra ‘Pendolino’ carriages that are currently being introduced into operation on the franchise, delivering over 28,000 extra daily seats.
- More Services: Initially First will operate the timetable it will inherit from the current franchise but is seeking to introduce a number of new services including a London Euston to Blackpool service from 2013 and from 2016 services from London to Telford Central, Shrewsbury and Bolton.
- Improved Services: Journey time improvements of 15 minutes between London and Glasgow are planned, as well as additional services from London to Preston.
- Lower Fares: First is changing its Standard Anytime fares and reducing them by an average of 15 per cent over the first two years of the franchise.
- Improved Stations: First is taking over responsibility for maintenance at 17 of its stations and will spend at least £22 million on a station investment programme.
- Smart ticketing technology: First will introduce smart ticketing. This will offer speed and convenience as well as new ticket types more tailored to individual needs.