Govia has won the franchise to operate the TSGN (Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern) franchise from September.
The Go-Ahead and Keolis joint venture fended off competition from both First Group and Stagecoach to secure the deal which will combine what is currently the First Capital Connect, Southern and the Gatwick Express franchises.
In a press release, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced the 7-year deal, which promises to boost current capacity across the franchise by 50%, providing an extra 10,000 seats into central London every weekday.
Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said: “A world class railway is a vital part of our long-term economic plan. New state-of-the-art trains, more seats, better connections and improved stations will transform travel across London and the south east. That’s great news for businesses and the hundreds of thousands of passengers who use these vital services every day.”
Govia will replace the entire Gatwick Express fleet with 108 new carriages, supplementing the Siemens Class 700 units currently under construction for the rest of the network. There will also be free wifi installed at over 100 stations, with extra staffing and station upgrades across the network.
The franchise award is significant as it’s the first major franchise award since the collapse of the West Coast Main Line (WCML) award in 2012. Interestingly, the TSGN award is being let as a management contract where ticket revenues are paid directly to the UK Government – the first such arrangement of its type. It’ll be interesting to see how the WCML franchise is awarded – Virgin’s two-year extension coming to an end in November 2014.
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