First Capital Connect loses Comet country rail bid

First Capital Connect

First Capital Connect - Credit: Archant

Rail service provider First Capital Connect (FCC) has been left “diasppointed” after they lost their bid to continue running the Great Northern franchise - which runs through Comet country.

The Department for Transport instead chose Govia, a joint venture between service provider Go-Ahead and France’s state-owned Keolis company, to take over the Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink franchises. The line runs through Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth GC.

Govia intends to invest “significantly” in improving stations by providing free wi-fi at “more than 100 stations”, “better retail and catering facilities” and improvements to customer information systems.

Staffing hours will also be extended so that at more than 100 of the largest stations there will have staff available from the first train in the morning until the last train at night.

First Capital Connect Managing Director David Statham said:

“We are of course disappointed that FirstGroup has not been selected as the operator for the TSGN franchise. We will work with Govia in order to secure the smooth transition of operations.

“Everyone at FCC is committed to continue operating First Capital Connect to the highest standards until the new TSGN franchise begins. We look forward to delivering continued improvements in service reliability, customer information and customer service until September 2014.

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“I am tremendously proud of the improvements we have brought to the FCC franchise, and our role as a key partner in the Thameslink Programme. Our achievements include almost 30,000 extra seats over both routes at our business times, launching the new Class 700 rolling stock, transforming our class 365 trains, investing over £41m in station improvements, opening new communication channels with our customers including Twitter, and providing a safe and secure railway through our £1m investment in extra police support officers at stations.

“I want to thank our employees for their hard work and continued efforts to deliver the best possible service for our passengers.”

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