Swift decision on Great Western Franchise vital to Bristol

Philip Morton

A leading figure in the Bristol business community has called for the future of the South West’s rail franchise to be decided as soon as possible or risk the city not being properly set up to take advantage of electrification.

Industry reports suggest that operator First Great Western will be awarded the rail franchise for the region for the next four years within the next month, but the bidding process has already been postponed by the Government once before amid a series of problems.

Philip Morton, Head of Office Agency & Development at the Bristol office of leading property advisers CBRE, believes the time has come to find a resolution to the ongoing situation.

He commented: “There has already been a lot of confusion and delay surrounding the bidding process for the Great Western franchise but it appears that the Government is on the verge of making an announcement that should hopefully settle the long-term future of the railway. Transport ministers need to settle the issue once and for all so we can get on with implementing the investment in our railway network as soon as possible.”

CBRE believes an early decision is crucial in ensuring that Bristol is able to capitalise on the opportunities that will be presented by the £4bn electrification of the main rail link between London and the South West.

Phillip added: “Electrification will be vital for the economic prosperity of Bristol and the whole of the surrounding region. We are talking about a direct link straight into the heart of the economy, which will bring business direct from London into the Enterprise Zone situated right next to Temple Meads station. It is critical that we have a sound structure in place now so that electrification can be introduced as smoothly as possible, with minimum disruption and delays.”