RAIL campaigners said a move to negotiate a new short-term franchise with rail company First Great Western would bring “welcome stability” for passengers.

But the Passenger Focus group said the rail firm needed to continue providing improvements for passengers.

Campaign group Passenger Focus issued its statement after the contest to secure the right to run Great Western train services through Oxfordshire was scrapped yesterday, with current operator First Great Western set to stay in charge until 2015.

The Department for Transport confirmed it was terminating the bidding process and taking up an option to extend its current contract with FGW until October.

This will allow talks to take place on a new two-year contract, and discussions with FGW, which runs services between Oxfordshire and London Paddington, are under way.

Passenger Focus spokesman Anthony Smith said: “The announcement will bring some welcome stability. It will be important that the short-term extensions for the franchise contains genuine improvements for passengers.”