The DfT informed Stagecoach in 2013 that it planned to sign a four-year direct award deal extending SWT's tenure until April 2019 and a notice to this effect was published in the Official Journal of the European Union in January 2014.
However, the DfT now plans to issue an invitation to tender for a new long-term franchise, which will start in 2017. Stagecoach says the DfT has indicated that it will exercise an option to extend the SWT franchise beyond February 2017, although the contract will not allow the current operator to continue beyond August 2017.
Stagecoach says that despite extensive negotiations "significant differences" remained between the two parties on the financial evaluation of the proposals. Nevertheless the company plans to submit a bid for the new long-term franchise.
On June 12 SWT announced that it would end its 'deep alliance' with Network Rail, which was created in April 2012 with the aim of achieving closer integration between the train operator and infrastructure manager. SWT and NR plan to retain their integrated control centre based at London Waterloo station, integrated capacity and planning teams and their joint performance team.