** On 23 March 2020, as a result of the Coronavirus Outbreak, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps utilised Section 118 of the Railways Act 1993 to suspend all current franchise agreements with private Train Operating Companies and replace them with new Emergency Measures Agreements (EMAs), which will run for six months.
These EMAs apply to all franchises currently let by the Department for Transport, except for LNER and Northern, which are already in public ownership.
EMAs do not apply to:
• the ScotRail or the Caledonian Sleeper franchises let by the Scottish Government,
• the Transport for Wales Rail franchise let by the Welsh Government,
• the TfL Rail or London Overground contracts let by Transport for London, or
• the Merseyrail contract let by Merseytravel **
Read on for the original Franchise information…
FirstGroup has operated the Greater Western franchise since April 2006. The franchise includes a majority of train services running to and from London Paddington and was supposed to end in March 2013. However, owing to the Department for Transport’s refranchising schedule being in disarray, FirstGroup was directly awarded a succession of extensions to its franchise, which is now due to end in March 2023 (with a possible extension to March 2024). FirstGroup also operates the TransPennine Express franchise, as well as the South Western Railway franchise in a joint venture with MTR Corporation and the Avanti West Coast franchise in partnership with Trenitalia.
• Do you use the First Great Western service regularly?
• Do you believe it should be returned to public hands as part of a re-unified national rail network run for people not profit?
• Then, why not start a campaign building up to the franchise end?
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