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Great Western (Great Western Railway)

East Anglia

What is happening now?

We published our response to the recent consultation in summer 2018. The Department for Transport (DfT)  have now released a stakeholder briefing document, outlining feedback from the consultation and decisions about the future of the Great Western franchise.

To provide a period of stability before the franchise is next competed, the Department will be asking First Group, the current operator, for a proposal to continue operating the franchise until 2022.


In March 2015 the Department for Transport (DfT) announced it had negotiated a second short-term franchise (known as a direct award) with the existing operator, Great Western Railway (GWR), previously known as First Great Western. This was to allow them to continue to run services until April 2020 when a new franchise was expected to start.

A previous competition was underway in 2012 but was cancelled as a review of the franchise process was undertaken. In October 2013 the DfT granted an initial direct award to the existing operator allowing them to continue operating services until September 2015. In 2014 DfT ran a consultation on the specification for Great Western for the five year period from 2015.

Our role in the franchising process

Transport Focus has maintained a dialogue with the DfT and the operator as the Great Western franchise has evolved.

We have responded to all the consultations and are now focused on the passenger interests for the next period of franchise operation. This includes appropriate targets for passenger satisfaction and, importantly, minimising disruption as delivery of the new infrastructure and trains is completed.

Prior to the announcement of the further direct award to run from September 2015, we were involved in detailed discussions about National Rail Passenger Satisfaction targets to be included in the contract and the passenger outcomes we felt the new agreement should deliver. We had previously responded to the 2014 consultation and made presentations at the stakeholder events organised by the DfT.

The initial two year direct award included a ring-fenced budget to employ a Stakeholder Manager to work specifically on the Great Western network and for additional research on the franchise. These arrangements continue in the current contract.

Route specific research was carried out to inform our input to the 2012 competition (which was ultimately cancelled). We have subsequently used this information, and more recent NRPS data, as evidence of passenger aspirations and views in our discussions with the DfT and GWR about the direct awards. Our submission to the DfT about the interim direct award detailed what passengers would want from this. We stressed that it should include mechanisms to unlock much-needed investment, deliver real passenger benefits and provide firm foundations on which the next franchise can build. These aspirations remain relevant to the most recent agreement.

Our National Rail Passenger Survey offers a twice-yearly view of passenger satisfaction on GWR. Further reports and publications can be found below.

Transport Focus reports and publications

Feb 2018 Great Western franchise consultation- Transport Focus response
March 2015 Great Western franchise announcement – Passenger Focus response
 July 2014  Great Western franchise consultation – Passenger Focus response
 July 2012  Great Western franchise – passenger research summary
 April 2012  The Great Western franchise consultation response from Passenger Focus
 Feb 2012  Great Western research – DfT presentation
 Feb 2012  Great Western research – all five routes
 Feb 2012  Great Western research – Bristol commuter routes
 Feb 2012  Great Western research – Hereford-Oxford-Reading (regional) route
 Feb 2012  Great Western research – branch lines
Feb 2012 Great Western research – long distance routes
Feb 2012 Great Western research – passenger stated preference
Feb 2012 Great Western research – ports – CDF (inter-regional)
Feb 2012 Great Western franchise – Excel summary report
Feb 2012 Great Western franchise: preliminary findings from passenger research – presentation
Dec 2011 The Great Western franchise 2013 onwards: an initial submisssion from Passenger Focus

Click here for key Department for Transport publications

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