THE British government has issued Prior Information Notices (PIN) for West Coast Partnership (WCP) and Great Western Railway (GWR), declaring its intention to extend the direct awards for both for 10 and six years respectively.

The government had already agreed to extend the WCP deal for 10 years, however that contract was due to start on April 1 2022 and last until March 31 2032, but this has been changed and will now start on October 16 2022, lasting for 10 years.

The WCP contract is operated by Avanti West Coast, a joint venture between FirstGroup (70%) and Italian State Railways (FS) subsidiary Trenitalia (30%). The new deal will see this continue but it is envisaged that the provision of services on High Speed 2 (HS2), initially between Old Oak Common in west London and Curzon Street in Birmingham and potentially between London Euston and Crewe will also be required. There will also be the need to include the performance of services relating to the planning and preparation of HS2 rail services. The new line is currently expected to open between 2029 and 2033.

As for GWR it is envisaged that the new direct award contract would begin on June 26 2022 and last for up to 72 months. The PIN states it’s likely the contract will include a core period of three years with an optional additional period, or periods, exercisable at the sole discretion of the Department for Transport.

GWR, operated by FirstGroup, runs a mixture of inter-city long-distance, suburban, rural and inter-regional services.