FirstGroup signs first US commuter rail contract

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FirstGroup plc welcomes the announcement by the Denton County Transportation Authority (‘DCTA’) Board of Directors that First Transit has been awarded the contract to operate and maintain the A-train commuter rail service.

The A-train is a 21-mile regional rail system connecting Denton and Dallas Counties in the state of Texas. DCTA has five A-train stations; two in Denton and three in Lewisville. The A-train also connects with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) at their Trinity Mills Station in Carrollton where passengers can transfer to the DART Green Line and gain access to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. First Transit and DCTA’s new contract agreement, which covers a period of nine years with an additional five-year option, will go into effect 1 October 2016, and will earn revenues of approximately USD9m per year.

First Transit already has a strong presence in the area through a transit management contract with DCTA. The Group’s First Student division operates buses in Lewisville within the same county, and the Greyhound division is headquartered in nearby Dallas. FirstGroup continues to explore opportunities for future growth which meet its criteria for returns and create long-term sustainable value, while ensuring focus on core operations. The US rail sector offers a number of potential opportunities in a market that is increasingly focused on outsourcing.

Commenting, Tim O’Toole, FirstGroup Chief Executive said:

“We are very pleased that the Denton County Transit Authority has awarded us the contract for A-train service; our first rail contract in North America. This contract for A-train service represents an exciting new development for the Group and we welcome the opportunity to develop and share our rail expertise with a progressive partner such as the Denton County Transportation Authority. Our US rail team blends our significant experience in rail in the UK with North American transit expertise in both rail and bus. We look forward to building on this success as we explore further opportunities in the sector.”

Jim Cline, DCTA President said:

“We’re excited to extend our partnership with First Transit to our A-train rail operations and maintenance. First Transit’s innovative solutions in rail infrastructure maintenance will enable us to provide enhanced rail services for the many communities we serve.”

FirstGroup/MTR joint venture to bid for South Western franchise

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FirstGroup is pleased to announce that MTR Corporation (UK) will join the Group in a joint venture to bid for the South Western rail franchise, following the assent of the Department for Transport.

Commenting, Steve Montgomery, First Rail Managing Director said:

“We are pleased that we will be partnering with MTR in a joint venture to bid for the South Western rail franchise, for which we were shortlisted in February 2016. We have extensive expertise of running commuter, inter-urban, regional and long distance services – such as those that make up the South Western franchise – and a strong track record in delivering passenger growth. MTR run successful suburban and commuter railways; their knowledge from running London Overground and TfL Rail on behalf of Transport for London will add further depth and understanding to an important component of this franchise.

“Together, FirstGroup and MTR will develop an innovative and value for money proposal that will deliver better connectivity and significant improvements for South Western customers. Our bid will keep people moving and communities prospering across the region.”

Notes

1. MTR Corporation (UK) will take a 30% stake in the joint venture

2. Both FirstGroup and MTR hold ‘Pre-Qualification Questionnaire Passports’ with the Department for Transport which shows that they have satisfied basic financial and other competence criteria and allows them to Express an Interest in submitting franchise bids to Government

3. MTR run the current London Overground concession in a joint venture with Arriva. This operation serves Clapham Junction, the busiest station on the network and a key hub for the South Western franchise. In addition, they have been selected as the operator of the new Crossrail/Elizabeth Line service and run TfL Rail services from London Liverpool Street station.

FirstGroup plc (LSE: FGP.L) is the leading transport operator in the UK and North America. With £5.2 billion in revenues and 110,000 employees, we transported around 2.2 billion passengers last year. Each of our five divisions is a leader in its field: In North America, First Student is the largest provider of student transportation with a fleet of around 47,000 yellow school buses, First Transit is one of the largest providers of outsourced transit management and contracting services, while Greyhound is the only nationwide operator of scheduled intercity coach services. In the UK, FirstGroup is one of Britain’s largest bus operators running a fleet of some 6,200 buses, and we are one of the country’s most experienced passenger rail operators, carrying around 140 million passengers last year.