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Railways: First Great Western

Volume 712: debated on Tuesday 14 July 2009

Statement

On 26 February 2008, the then Secretary of State, the right honourable member for Bolton West, made a Statement about the performance of the First Great Western Franchise, in which she informed Parliament that First Great Western had breached its franchise agreement by exceeding the limits on cancellations, and also by misreporting those cancellations.

The right honourable Member for Bolton West issued First Great Western with a remedial plan notice for exceeding the threshold on cancellations which had resulted in a breach of its franchise agreement. In response to this notice, First Great Western submitted a remedial plan addressing that level of cancellations.

On 17 March 2008 an agreement with First Great Western was signed, which required First Great Western to implement the remedial plan and to comply with a forward trajectory for reducing cancellations. The remedial period started on 1 April 2008 and would end when the criteria in the agreement were met.

The criteria in the agreement for the end of the remedial period were met by First Great Western in relation to the four-week rail reporting period ending on 27 June 2009. Cancellations figures for this four-week period have been finalised. I am therefore now able to confirm that First Great Western has met the criteria and that the remedial period is therefore now at an end. Department for Transport officials have checked the manner in which the cancellations figures were calculated and I am satisfied that the criteria have been met.

In her Statement on 26 February 2008, my predecessor also announced that, in addition to the remedial plan, First Great Western had offered a package of passenger benefits amounting to £29 million. Delivery of this obligation is not affected by the ending of the remedial period and I have been assured that First Great Western is confident that it will meet the commitments it made on time.