I welcome the Department for Transport announcement today of a 1 year extension to the current Great Western franchise. This means that GWR will continue to operate trains until at least March 2020 - this is good for Cornwall as it allows more time for us to get the best out of the new Intercity Express Trains, increased number of trains between Penzance and Plymouth, upgraded sleeper and improvements at Penzance, St Erth & Truro Stations. Alongside this the department has opened a consultation on a new franchise and reopening closed railway stations and halts. This will include the possibility of splitting the current franchise in order to increase the competition between potential train operators to run future franchises. This could see a smaller franchise covering Cornwall and Devon and Intercity rail services - including the sleeper. The consultation period will close at the end of February. The new franchise needs to ensure railway services continue to improve and must focus on the needs of passengers and businesses in Cornwall and the wider South West.
I will be working closely with Cornwall Council to ensure the new franchise builds on the good work to deliver One Public Transport System for Cornwall. I will ensure passengers and local businesses have the fullest opportunity to shape our future rail services.
The consultation on the Great Western Rail franchise is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/great-western-rail-franchise