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FIRSTGROUP PLC: Statement re


Embargoed until 7am on 31 January 2012

FIRSTGROUP PLC


                         ('FirstGroup' or 'the Group')                         

  Statement re: First Great Western and First Capital Connect rail franchises  

In response to the announcement by the Department for Transport ('DfT') today,
FirstGroup, the leading transport operator in the UK and North America,
confirms the following with regard to its First Great Western and First Capital
Connect rail franchises.

The First Great Western franchise will continue beyond its current end date of
31 March 2013. Under the terms of the current franchise agreement the 28 week
extension period will be activated. In addition we are in discussions with the
DfT in respect of an agreement to continue the franchise for a further two
years beyond October 2013. This will ensure continuity of service and enable
First Great Western to continue to deliver improvements for passengers
throughout this longer period. The extension will facilitate the planned
delivery of major projects on the network, in particular electrification and
the introduction of associated new rolling stock, as well as significant
upgrade work to the line, stations and signalling.

The First Capital Connect franchise will also continue beyond the current
planned end date of 14 September 2013. The current contract includes an option
to extend the duration for 28 weeks, which the DfT states it intends to
exercise. We are also in discussions in respect of an agreement for the
franchise to continue for a further period of up to two extra years, which will
allow First Capital Connect to continue to support the successful Thameslink
Programme. This major investment has transformed a key part of London's
transport network and benefits for passengers are set to continue, including
the redevelopment of London Bridge station and the introduction of new rolling
stock.

Commenting, Tim O'Toole, Chief Executive said:

"The extension of First Great Western and First Capital Connect provides
continuity and consistency for our passengers and enables us to continue to
deliver considerable improvements to services. At both these franchises
everyone has worked tirelessly to enhance services and we have a record of
successfully delivering major projects, working together with Government and
our industry partners.

"We have also taken significant steps to tackle overcrowding, although there is
still much to do on these routes which are among the most congested in the
country. Today's announcement will also allow us to work closely with the DfT
and our industry partners to deliver the much needed new capacity as
efficiently and effectively as possible."

Further information, FirstGroup:

Rachael Borthwick, Group Corporate Communications Director

Tel: +44 7771 945432 / 020 7291 0508

Stuart Butchers, Group Corporate Communications Manager

Tel: +44 7713 317979 / 020 7291 0507

Brunswick PR

Michael Harrison/Andrew Porter, Tel: 020 7404 5959Notes to editors

First Great Western

  * First Great Western operates high speed, commuter, regional and branch line
    services across the South and West of England, the Cotswolds and South
    Wales.
      * FirstGroup took a 24.5% stake in the 1996 privatisation of Great Western
    Holdings and acquired the remainder of the company in April 1998. The newly
    expanded franchise of First Great Western (encompassing the former Great
    Western Trains, Thames Trains and parts of Wessex Trains) was won in
    December 2005 and commenced operation in April 2006.
      * First Great Western operates 9,000 services per week to 276 stations, using
    a total 901 rolling stock vehicles. The franchise employs 5,000 people.
      * First Great Western runs more high-speed trains than at any time since the
    network was built with increased frequencies including half-hourly service
    to Cardiff and trains every 15 minutes to Bristol.
      * 100 new rolling stock vehicles have been introduced to First Great Western
    by FirstGroup since 2006, in addition to 70 new rolling stock vehicles
    introduced by Great Western Trains - a 23% increase in rolling stock in
    total.
      * Passenger numbers are at historic highs, with more than 97m people choosing
    to take First Great Western services in 2011/12, up by 25% since the start
    of the expanded franchise in 2006.
      * Steadily improved operational performance has been sustained with
    punctuality and reliability figures improved on a moving annual average
    basis from 83% in 2006 to nearly 90% today. The latest independent National
    Passenger Survey (published in January 2013) showed that the latest
    passenger satisfaction score is up 6% since the start of the franchise.
    Heathrow Connect, a separate brand operated by FGW, achieved 92%
    satisfaction.
      * First Great Western was voted Rail Operator of the Year at the Rail
    Business Awards in 2010 and winner of the Customer Communication and
    Service Excellence award at the Rail Business Awards in 2012.
    First Capital Connect

  * First Capital Connect provides rail services spanning the heart of the
    South East, from Brighton to Bedford and King's Cross to Peterborough,
    Cambridge and King's Lynn.
      * The Thameslink/GN franchise, which combined the current Thameslink and
    Great Northern franchises, officially commenced on 1 April 2006 as First
    Capital Connect. In March 2010 the franchise was automatically continued
    for two years as service performance targets were met. Subject to the DfT's
    agreement, the franchise could then continue for up to three further years
    as flexibility was necessary to facilitate works on the Thameslink
    Programme, and was therefore extended to 14 September 2013.
      * First Capital Connect operates approximately 7,000 services per week to 104
    stations, using a total of 840 rolling stock vehicles. The franchise
    employs more than 2,400 people.
      * Passenger numbers are up from 86m in 2006/7 to 100m in 2011/12. The
    franchise carries 170,000 people each weekday.
      * First Capital Connect is a key partner of Network Rail and Transport for
    London in Thameslink Programme - milestones achieved so far includes the
    first 12-carriage trains to operate on the route, the extension of
    Blackfriars platforms across the Thames, redevelopment of Farringdon
    station and extension of platforms across the network.
      * 144 new rolling stock vehicles have been introduced to the Thameslink route
    by First Capital Connect since 2006, delivering an extra 14,500 seats at
    our busiest times of the day. The number of cross London rush hour trains
    has been doubled from 7/8 to 15 per hour between St Pancras International
    and Blackfriars. 12,500 extra seats have also been added at the busiest
    times of the day on Great Northern services to increase peak time capacity
    by over 22%.
      * First Capital Connect was the first operator of the Thameslink franchise to
    get a punctuality and reliability score of more than 90% on a moving annual
    average basis. The latest independent National Passenger Survey (published
    in January 2013) showed that the latest passenger satisfaction score is up
    5% since the start of the franchise.
      * All 73 First Capital Connect managed stations have been accredited as
    `Secure Stations' by the British Transport Police. Crime on the network has
    been cut by 41% through funding of extra British Transport Police and 1,500
    new CCTV cameras.
    

END

-0- Jan/31/2013 07:00 GMT

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