SWR logo on train

UK: The Department for Transport has exercised an option to extend South Western Railway’s National Rail Contract for a further two years.

Directly-awarded NRCs are intended as an interim step between the Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements which were put in place during the pandemic, and the operating contracts to be awarded by the future Great British Railways.

SWR’s current NRC began in May 2021, with a two-year duration and an option for the DfT to extend it for a further two years. The extension confirmed on February 10 means the NRC will run until May 25 2025 on the existing terms.

DfT retains all revenue risk and cost risk up to an agreed level, with the operator receiving a fixed management fee and a performance-related bonus. 

A DfT spokesperson told Rail Business UK as with all operators, South Western Railway will be held responsible for delivering a reliable timetable and will be rewarded or penalised based on how it performs.’

SWR is run by the First MTR 70:30 joint venture of FirstGroup and MTR Corp.

The extension ‘enables us to build on the achievements of the first two years of the contract and continue improving the customer offering’, said FirstGroup CEO Graham Sutherland. ‘We are committed to working closely with government and our partners to deliver a successful railway network that provides vital connections for customers and communities along the SWR route.’

Steve Murphy, CEO of MTR UK, said the extension was ’the direct result of our hard working and dedicated colleagues at SWR.  Under the expert leadership of Claire Mann, they have worked collectively to prioritise delivering a safe and efficient railway for the customers and communities they serve.  We look forward to continuing to support them as they build an even better railway based upon their customers’ needs.’