First Great Western plans to reinvigorate strategy

Britain's biggest train operator, First Great Western, is to rethink its comms strategy ahead of a crucial period for the company.

The firm's executive team has hired Cathcart Consulting - run by ex-Manning Selvage & Lee CEO Jackie Elliot - for a ‘communications audit'.

First Great Western took over the enlarged Greater Western rail franchise on 1 April and runs trains to London from the West of England and Wales. Parent First Group is in the running to handle the new East Midlands and Cross Country franchises.

A statement read: ‘Our executive team felt a fresh pair of eyes would be useful to look at our comms activity and work with us to identify new opportunities.'

The firm is spending £200m to improve stations and refit its high-speed trains. It said it wants to better ‘emphasise' the investment via comms.

Back in April, First Great Western contracted Cheltenham-based Target PR and Welsh firm Equinox PR to handle regional campaigns. It said the pair would continue to work with the company until at least April 2007, adding that it had no plans to put any business up for pitch ‘for the foreseeable future'.

Customer services director Glenda Lamont and head of corporate comms Elaine Wilde oversee First Great Western's five-strong Swindon-based comms team.

In October, former Virgin Atlantic corporate affairs director Paul Moore joined FirstGroup as PA and comms director. He was previously head of PR at the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising.

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