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20 August: news in brief

Franchising is ‘set to continue’ according to industry chief

THE future of franchising is likely to change, but not be scrapped, according to Abellio UK managing director Dominic Booth. His company took over the East Midlands franchise on Sunday and held an official launch yesterday, and the contract may be the last involving the traditional model of risk and reward, although no details have been given. The West Coast Partnership has been awarded to a consortium of FirstGroup and Trenitalia, and starts on 8 December. However, it involves some changes, according to Steve Montgomery of FirstGroup. Mr Booth, meanwhile, is expecting the forthcoming Williams review to confirm that franchising will continue. He said: ‘I think we’re pretty confident that successive governments over many years have seen the value of that public/private partnership and what Williams wants to do is bring that up to date and iron out some of the wrinkles in it, but not abandon it.’ The East Midlands Railway franchise involves the replacement of the Class 222 Meridians and the last 12 HSTs with a fleet of new bi mode Hitachi trains, while the diesels on other routes will also be replaced by newer, cascaded units from next year.

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