The Department for Transport received over 1,300 responses to its consultation document about the replacement Great Western franchise. The Invitation to Tender was scheduled to be published at the end of May but was postponed to mid-June and then to mid-July. Bidders then have 90 days in which to prepare their bid documents so the announcement of the successful bidder might also be delayed beyond the original December 2012 date.
The franchise start date could also be retarded. Any significant timetable changes are unlikely before May 2014.
It appears that more thought is going into this franchise specification than when it was last done, seven years ago. Among the thorny issues is the impact of electrification to Newbury, Oxford, Bristol and Cardiff, plus Crossrail trains taking over most London-Maidenhead services.