THE Great Western franchise may be directly awarded to train operator First Great Western (FGW) for another five years, from 2015 to 2020, without a tendering process, officials have said.

The Department for Transport had previously suggested a full franchising competition could be held to select an operator to run services for up to 10 years.

But it has now said it was considering awarding FGW a contract running for five years from September 2015, while major modernisation of the Great Western main line is completed.