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Cornwall's Rail Franchise Extended

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2:28pm 3rd October 2013

Plans to cut the number of direct trains from Cornwall to London are put on hold.

It is as First Great Western gets a two year franchise extension.

Bosses are promising we will keep our nine daily services to Paddington.

Also on the cards more seats, more carriages on the sleeper and better WiFi.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "The Great Western franchise provides a vital service for thousands of passengers every day and under this deal they will see real benefits.

"For communities like Devon and Cornwall the train is a life-line bringing in business and helping secure the leisure industry the community relies upon. This agreement will provide additional sleeper carriages between London and Cornwall securing the future of a key service once under threat.

"We have also secured a commitment to deliver greater WiFi coverage to improve the experience of long distance journeys for passengers. But I am also determined that we see further improvements during the lifetime of this contract; more standard class and fewer first class seats on key services and the delivery of more electric trains for the Thames Valley.

"This agreement provides further proof that the Government's new franchising schedule is on track, delivering value for money for the tax-payer and supporting the ongoing multi-billion pound investment programme in our railways."

Duchy rail campaigner Derek Buttivant said it was a step in the right direction: "Most customers would be pleased that the extended franchise has gone the First Great Western. On the other hand it is only for a couple of years and that still leaves a great deal of uncertainty beyond that period.

"Had the new franchise started as it was supposed to at the start of this year we would have been looking, I think, at promises of a great many new services, new trains and so on. As it is that's all been put on hold for a couple of years with minor improvements."

St Ives MP Andrew George has welcomed the move:  "It helps to have this interim reassurance about the continuity of the service. However, we will keep up the pressure on Government Ministers to ensure that the next full franchise is long enough to give the operator confidence to commit to significant long term investment in service quality, upgrades and affordable ticket pricing.
"The interim franchise should not be used as an excuse to delay investment decisions in our essential rail connections over the next two years. If the Government wants to show that it is not so obsessed with its HS2 project that it will leave mainline services like ours to Penzance withering on the vine, then we must see further investments in Sleeper service refurbishment, relieving problems of overcrowding and improvements in passenger comfort."

2:28pm 3rd October 2013

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