Warning to rail company

PUBLISHED: 01:01 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:53 10 June 2010

THE operators of the Exmouth to Exeter rail line have been warned by Government they could have their franchise revoked if they fail to invest an agreed £29 million into improving services nationally. The Department of Transport issued First Great West

THE operators of the Exmouth to Exeter rail line have been warned by Government they could have their franchise revoked - if they fail to invest an agreed £29 million into improving services nationally. The Department of Transport issued First Great Western - which runs services on the Avocet Line - a Remedial Plan Notice following a lot of train cancellations and delays.FGW was also heavily criticised for not giving passengers correct information on disruptions following what Secretary of State Ruth Kelly called "unacceptably high levels of train cancellations" in the second half of last year. The notice outlines a plan for reducing cancellations, including milestones, which DfT will monitor, and stresses the need for additional rolling stock, more drivers, guards and technicians. FGW is also being issued with a Breach Notice for misreporting disruptions, and outlines what steps the Government expects FGW to take to retain its franchise. In addition, a £29m package of passenger benefits has been agreed, including compensation doubled to passengers who have been most affected until January next year - rates from January 2009 to January 2010 will increase by 50 per cent. An additional 500,000 of the cheapest off-peak tickets will be on offer and station information systems will be upgraded by Christmas 2010. Ruth Kelly said failure to deliver these new commitments could lead to the Government terminating First Great Western's franchise. Ms Kelly said: "The performance of First Great Western has fallen persistently short of customers' expectations and has been unacceptable to both passengers and Government. "The £29m package of benefits agreed with First Great Western will make a real difference to passengers. The measures I have announced will lead to a reduction in train cancellations and also provide a substantial package of benefits customers." Chairman of the Avocet Line Rail Users' Group Tony Day, of Lympstone, said: "While we have got off fairly lightly compared to Bristol and the Thames Valley, we have still seen cancellations and service delays."FGW has a new management board, and they are all railway men and know the business inside and out, and hopefully things will improve. "It's good news for the Exmouth branch that £29 million is to be spent on customer information systems."The systems currently being used are very poor and I'm hopeful some of the money will be spent here.

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