Train operator Great Western Railway (GWR) has been awarded a new contract which will run until 21st June 2025 by The Department for Transport. The company will also have an option of a further three-year renewal, which will enable them to continue to deliver excellent customer service levels which have risen from 81% to 91. Improvements in customer experience primarily stem from the introduction of high-speed Intercity Express Trains alongside major timetable changes. A spokesperson for Great Western Railway (GWR) said that “it planned to put passengers at the heart of an updated, & modern railway”. We will be focusing on investment, providing better value for money for customers & the tax payer, and ensuring our services are more sustainable
This new National Rail Contract (NRC) will begin on the 26th June which is when GWR’s previous contractual agreement was due to expire. During the Covid-19 pandemic the government sought to move train operating companies over to Emergency Measure Agreements which temporarily took over the financial risk of operating the railways. So this new National Rail Contract now replaces the older franchising awards, post EMAs.
Bruce Williamson, from passenger advocacy group Railfuture, said he was “happy that there will be a bit of certainty on the railway” with the new contract. “Trains will keep running – and that’s a good thing – but it certainly isn’t going to transform the railways.
“How well it works remains to be seen,” he said.
Rail Minister, Wendy Morton, said: “We’re delighted to continue our partnership with Great Western Railway, and excited by its plans to deliver more benefits for local communities.
“During the pandemic, GWR was instrumental in keeping critical services moving and this new contract will see it continue to deliver our ambitious Plan for Rail and provide a fantastic service for passengers.”