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Stagecoach Disqualified From Current Three UK Rail Franchise Competitions

Stagecoach Group plc (SGC.L) said that it has been informed by the U.K. Department for Transport or "DfT" that it has been disqualified from the current three UK rail franchise competitions.

Stagecoach was shortlisted in the franchise competitions: East Midlands where it was bidding independently;South Eastern where it was bidding with support from its intended partner Alstom; West Coast Partnership where it was part of a joint bid with Virgin Group and SNCF.

Stagecoach noted that a senior DfT official has verbally informed the company that it has been excluded from all three competitions for submitting non-compliant bids principally in respect of pensions risk.

Bidders for these franchises were asked to bear full long-term funding risk on relevant sections of the Railways Pension Scheme. This is at a time when The Pensions Regulator is seeking additional funding because of serious doubts over the Government's ongoing support for the industry-wide scheme.

Stagecoach Group Chief Executive Martin Griffiths said,"We are extremely concerned at both the DfT's decision and its timing. The Department has had full knowledge of these bids for a lengthy period and we are seeking an urgent meeting to discuss our significant concerns."

Griffiths said, "We bid consistent with industry guidance issued by the Rail Delivery Group and shared with the DfT. Without ongoing Government support for the long-term funding of railway pensions, The Pensions Regulator has indicated that an additional £5billion to £6 billion would be needed to plug the gap in train company pensions."

Griffiths said, "In contrast, the rail industry proposed solution would have delivered an additional £500million to £600million into the scheme. This would have provided better stability and security for members and much better value for taxpayers.'

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