One day after FirstGroup’s First Capital Connect franchise was named Britain’s third most-complained about train line, the Government today handed the transport giant a licence to run it for another six months.
It means First will run the Bedford to Brighton via King’s Cross/St Pancras franchise until September 14 — instead of March 31. By that time the Department for Transport will have chosen the winner of the new franchise, bundled with other rail links under the Government’s £6.5 billion Thameslink programme for which FirstGroup claimed it had submitted a “compelling bid”.
It comes as a Which? poll of more than 7400 train passengers found only 41 per cent of First Capital Connect commuters were satisfied with its service. Almost two in 10 passengers said the line’s lavatories were not in good working order.
FirstGroup promised "higher levels of train cleaning” and chief executive Tim O’Toole added: “Today’s agreement provides continuity and consistency for First Capital Connect passengers."