Prism wins franchise for Great Northern

Prism Rail, the consortium of bus-company directors, yesterday won its fourth passenger train franchise when it was awarded the contract to operate West Anglia Great Northern Railway, the line which runs from London to Stansted airport and Cambridge.

John O'Brien, the rail franchising director, also announced that GB Railways, a specially formed company, had won the right to run the Anglia Railways route in eastern England.

Both Prism and GB Railways have been awarded franchises lasting seven years, three months. The two awards mean that four lines have passed into private hands in the last eight days. In all, 17 franchises have been awarded, leaving only eight train companies to be sold off.

Prism is promising to make a premium payment of pounds 24.8m to the franchising office in 2004 by operating the West Anglia route. It needs capital of pounds 19m and plans to partly fund the running of the franchise from a rights issue with the balance being met out of bank facilities. Details will be confirmed later this month.

Prism also operates LTS (London, Tilbury and Southend), South West and Wales and Cardiff railways.

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