GB Railways lose out on Wales franchise

Anglia Railways owner GB Railways today suffered a setback in its expansion plans after losing out on the franchise to operate the Wales and Borders service.

Anglia Railways owner GB Railways today suffered a setback in its expansion plans after losing out on the franchise to operate the Wales and Borders service.

The franchise is one of three the company had been hoping to take over – including the Greater Anglia franchise.

But the Strategic Rail Authority instead named bus-and-train company Arriva as the preferred bidder.

GB Railways said it was disappointed with the decision – but remained focused on its other bids.


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Arriva will be responsible for all local and regional train services in Wales and the border counties.

It will start operating the 15-year franchise by the end of the year.

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GB is still in the running for Northern Rail and the new Greater Anglia franchise.

For Greater Anglia, it is facing competition from National Express and Arriva.

This new franchise will incorporate its Anglia Railways services together with those provided by First Great Eastern and some of WAGN's routes including King's Lynn to London's King's Cross.

The company's final bid must be with the SRA by the start of next month and it will hear later this year if it has been selected.

GB must submit its bid for the Northern Rail franchise by the end of September.

The bids come as GB is in the midst of a takeover by rival operator FirstGroup.

FirstGroup has offered shareholders 250p for every GB Railways share, with the prospect of another 200p if it wins the Greater Anglia franchise. A further 50p was conditional on its winning either the Wales and Borders or the Northern Rail franchise.

FirstGroup is expected to announce on Wednesday if it has succeeded in winning enough support from shareholders for the takeover.

Jeremy Long, GB Railways chief executive, said the company was disappointed not to have won the Wales franchise.

“We are disappointed as we put a lot of work into the bid and we felt there is a lot of similarity in terms of the needs of Wales compared with our experience in East Anglia,” he said.

“But we remain focused on our bid for the Greater Anglia franchise. We are working very hard on that putting the document together.

“There's no doubt there will be very tough competition as National Express and Arriva no doubt believe they have got good bids.”

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