Sunday, 11 March 2007

First Great Western made severe cuts to services in order to win the new franchise

MYTH. Like every other bidder for the Greater Western franchise, First Group had to submit a bid based on a Base Case Tender set by the Department for Transport. This is a compulsory part of the bidding process and is, in reality, the only tender on which bidders are assessed and, ultimately, chosen. The government (the Strategic Rail Authority in this instance as it was still in existence when the franchise first went out to tender) sets the specifications for the base case – the train operating companies have virtually no input whatsoever. So, from the outset, the base case which was based on Service Level Commitment 2 (SLC2), always had cuts. In other words, it was the government that built the cuts into the franchising process and made companies bid against it.

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