South Western Railway (SWR), which operates trains from Salisbury and across the south coast, have agreed to terminate their franchise with the Department for Transport (DfT).
FirstGroup, who run the SWR in partnership with MRT Corporation announced they have agreed on a termination fee with the DfT.
The company is currently operating under an Emergency Recovery Measurements Agreement (ERMAs), which were put in place by the government to ensure rail services continued to operate for key workers and essential travel during the coronavirus pandemic.
The current arrangements run until the end of March 2021, but the £33.2m termination agreement will now see South Western Railway negotiate a new longer-term directly awarded management contract which will still see SWR branded trains continue to run on the network. The DfT has indicated that the new National Rail Contract would last to 1 April 2023 with the possibility to extend for a further 2 years.
FirstGroup Chief Executive Matthew Gregory said:
“We welcome this agreement, which marks a further evolution of the contractual framework for our SWR, both in the context of providing resilient services throughout the coronavirus pandemic and also a more sustainable long-term approach. The new directly awarded management contract will focus on passengers and operational performance, with a more appropriate balance of risk and reward. We look forward to working constructively with the DfT to make this a reality, and to use our expertise and understanding of the needs of our customers to deliver improvements that we know passengers want.”