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Three factors drove the explosion in new train orders during the last decade. First, the Department for Transport put a financial value on quality in its evaluation of franchise bids. It was no longer a case of highest or lowest Net Present Value wins, depending on whether you were bidding a premium or seeking a subsidy. The value of your quality proposal came off your subsidy or boosted your premium.

Franchise bidders immediately realised that the top bid-winning quality benefit was new trains. Especially when Pacers became a political issue.

Encouraging this new strategy was the fact that both money and trains were cheap. With interest rates plummeting, there was a glut of money on the market looking for a home where it could earn a worthwhile return.

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