The UK’s railway network is to be expanded and improved under a seven year management contract awarded to the Go-Ahead Group, a joint venture between transport operators Govia (65%) and Keolis (35%), it was announced on Friday.
Britain’s Department for Transport (DfT) has selected Go-Ahead to operate the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise. Beginning in September 2014, TSGN will open up new routes across London and improve services to destinations such as Brighton, King’s Lynn, Peterborough, Cambridge, Bedford, Luton, Gatwick Airport and Moorgate.
TSGN replaces the Thameslink and Great Northern franchise which is currently operated as First Capital Connect, FCC, which provides approximately 273 million passenger journeys yearly. From December 2014, the franchise will cover certain services and stations currently operated by Southeastern and from July 2015, TSGN will also include the Southern and Gatwick Express. This will result in the formation of the largest rail franchise in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue and staff, serving London and regional centres such as Cambridge, Luton and Peterborough to the north, and Brighton, Portsmouth and Southampton in the south. Direct rail links to Gatwick and Luton airports are provided, as well as St Pancras International and Farringdon station for links to Heathrow and Crossrail in due course.
Rail services will be enhanced with the addition of three new state-of-the-art electric train fleets, which will provide an extra 10,000 morning peak seats into London, 50% more passenger capacity and better connections. Station facilities at all 239 stations will also be improved with the help of a GBP50m investment. Staffing hours will also be increased and the 100 busiest stations will be staffed from first to last train.
From the start of the franchise in September 2014 to June 2015, Govia estimates that revenue from franchise payments will be approximately GBP350m. In the first full year to June 2016, which includes the Southern franchise from July 2015, the revenue from franchise payments is expected to be around GBP1.1bn. The company will work with the DfT to generate passenger revenue of an estimated GBP12.4bn over the life of the franchise, for the benefit of UK taxpayers.