MP Concerned Over Southwest Rail Franchise

Scilly MP Andrew George

Scilly’s MP is concerned that the southwest railway operator may be about the hand back the franchise.

Mr George recently contacted the Department for Transport following rumours that First Great Western was considering taking advantage of a break clause in its franchise contract to bow out three
years early in 2013.

The company operates regular rail services from London including the overnight sleeper and currently promotes combined train and helicopter packages to Scilly. Those all-in-one tickets have been flagged up by tourism consultants Blue Sail as an example of simplyfiying visitor travel to Scilly.

Norman Baker has written back to the MP saying that the franchise agreement requires the company to continue to operate train services for the term of its franchise and that ‘failure to do so until the relevant termination date would constitute a serious breach of the franchise agreement.’

However, Andrew George says a a good performance review will entitle First Group to bow out in two years time but he says he is satisfied that “the Government is determined to maintain this vital service”.