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Transport Secretary raps First Great Western

Train firm to offer £29 million of benefits

Rail company First Great Western (FGW) has been ordered to submit a plan to improve its performance after Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly ruled it had breached its franchise conditions.

The firm has agreed to offer a package of passenger benefits worth £29 million after it exceeded the number of cancellations allowed under the terms of its franchise agreement.

It has also doubled the amount it will pay in passenger compensation this year.

‘Fallen short’

In a written statement to MPs, Ms Kelly said: ‘The performance of First Great Western has persistently fallen short of its customers’ expectations and has been unacceptable to both passengers and the government.’

She said the firm had breached the limit on cancellations and misreported the number of cancelled services.

The performance of First Great Western…has been unacceptable

Ruth KellyTransport Secretary

The firm runs main line services between London and South Wales and the West Country.

Remedial plan

Ms Kelly said she had issued First Great Western (FGW) with a remedial plan notice.

‘In response to this notice, FGW will submit a remedial plan for addressing this level of cancellation.

‘Discussions are at an advanced stage on what the plan will contain.’

More drivers

Ms Kelly said as part of the preparations for the plan, FGW had committed to employ more drivers and use extra carriages.

The benefits package unveiled by FGW yesterday says it will:

improve passenger compensation from 2009 to 2010

  • allow an additional 500,000 cheap off-peak tickets on some of their most popular routes from April this year
  • put additional carriages on the Cardiff-Portsmouth route from this summer
  • put in new information equipment at stations
  • refurbish Thames Valley commuter trains.

Ms Kelly said it was open to her to impose a fine on FGW, but she decided the benefits package would be better for passengers.

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