The Department for Transport has announced its intention to award FirstGroup the contract to operate the South Western rail franchise until at least 2024, in a joint venture with MTR.
The operator will have the responsibility of running this key part of the country's rail network on which millions of people rely every day, and won the franchise after committing to better trains, more seats and quicker journeys.
Over the period of the franchise, £1.2bn will be invested to raise the quality of every aspect of train journeys on the network, and FirstGroup has pledged to give customers, community groups and employees a say in setting priorities for that investment by focusing on the following areas, based on their feedback.
Steve Brine has been a long-standing rail campaigner, and the Winchester & Chandler's Ford MP said: "Congratulations to First Group for snatching this key franchise away from Stagecoach/South West Trains. I've met regularly with both bidders over the course of the last few years and been impressed with the ambition First have shown for the service they can offer the public.
"Their undertaking to increase capacity - in spacious carriages - deliver wi-if that works, a modern smart and flexible season ticket policy as well as new lower fares for 16-18 year olds are really exciting. I look forward to working with the team and will hold them to every word."
The MP added he had already secured an undertaking from FirstGroup to work afresh on finding a long term solution to the parking problems at Shawford and Micheldever Station.
"What we have now is a short-sighted sticking plaster and I've already been in touch with the team at First this morning to congratulate them and seek an early meeting to return to discuss both."
More information ...
See more on Steve's work on our rail service here
Take a look at FirstGroup's commitments here
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