A blanket email from GWR, dated 30 March 2020
I wanted to drop you a quick note to confirm that FirstGroup and the Department for Transport (DfT) have signed a new Direct Award to continue operating GWR from 1 April 2020, when the current agreement comes to an end. This will run for three years, with the option for the government to add a further year and will run concurrently with the six months Emergency Measures Agreement now in place with the DfT.
This will mean we can use our experience of managing the route over many years to keep the railway running for key workers and essential travel. Our responsibility right now is to run a service that can be relied upon, and this is where our current focus lies.
It is also important to take a moment to look forward to a time when things return to normal, once the current crisis has abated. It will be essential for the local, regional and national economy that we are ready to support our customers, our stakeholders and our communities as they begin to rebuild.
The new franchise will allow us to build on the radical changes we have made over the last ten years. It will not be a stand-still franchise. We will have a full programme of investment in our stations, in our services and in our communities, and over the coming weeks I will send more details of our plans.
I did not want this day to pass without sending a personal thank you for all your help in getting us to this point. We really value the support given by our stakeholders and partners and we look forward to continuing to work with you.
Best regards, Interim Managing Director
From Pilning Station Group, 2 April 2020
Thank you for your email of 30 March, and congratulations on securing a further three year Direct Award to continue operating the GWR franchise. With things as they are, a period of extended stability is the only sensible way forward, and we wish you well in the challenging circumstances which will undoubtedly prevail for some time to come. May I also take this opportunity to thank you and all your staff for their sterling work in keeping services running during the present very difficult period – including continuing to maintain a service at our station on Saturdays. This is very much appreciated.
Looking further into the future, we are heartened and encouraged by your pledge to continue investing in stations and services, and we hope very much that we at Pilning will not continue to be overlooked in this respect. Although naturally our ultimate aspiration is the reinstatement of the station footbridge and a full two-directional service, there are modest but achievable improvements which could easily be made in the short term, and we hope to be able to have a constructive and meaningful dialogue with you about these when life returns to something approaching normality. In the meantime, however, all best wishes to you and your staff in continuing to cope with the current situation.
Yours sincerely, Chair, Pilning Station Group
From GWR, 2 April 2020
Thank you for your email. I am very proud of our teams who are making sure we deliver key worker services, and it has been such a pleasure to read emails like yours that acknowledge their hard work. I will make sure that the comments are passed on.
You will not be surprised to learn that we have had many station groups suggesting schemes for investment! The first six months of the Direct Award are under the Emergency Measures Agreement, so nothing will happen for a while, and once that is over, we will need to look at the impact on regional, local and the national economy before we make any decisions about where we invest.
I will make sure you are kept updated.