Burges Salmon assists FirstGroup with rail triumph

Burges Salmon has advised FirstGroup on its double franchise triumph earlier this week which made it Britain’s largest rail company.

The transport company won the right to operate the Greater Western and the Thameslink/Great Northern franchises which have a combined revenue of almost £2bn.

Burges Salmon’s head of commercial and lead partner on the deal Simon Coppen told The Lawyer: “We were really pleased to be involved in the successful bid for these franchises. But franchise transition is a busy time and there is still lots to do between now and April.”

The Greater London franchise runs for seven years with a possible three year extension. The Thameslink/Great Northern operation runs for up to nine years with a break clause after four. FirstGroup will rename it First Capital Connect. The deal makes FirstGroup the largest rail operator in the UK carrying more than 260 million passengers a year.

Burges Salmon is a regular adviser to FirstGroup including acting for the company when it successfully bid for the Thames Trains franchise a few years ago. Coppen worked with partner John Smith and was assisted by Matt Yates, Isabel Sanchez and Katherine Williams.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer led by corporate partner Richard Philips, represented the Department for Transport (DfT). Freshfields was the regular counsel for the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) and gained the DfT as a client when the SRA’s responsibilities were transferred to the government department. Philips was assisted by Rita Garcia Bennett and Jason Chamberlain. Erin Reilly was the in-house counsel acting on the franchise auction for the DfT.