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Southern joins GTR to become largest UK franchise from Sunday

This weekend marks the integration of Southern, Gatwick Express and some Southeastern services with the Great Northern and Thameslink networks to form the largest single UK franchise.

The Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise will be operated by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), part of Govia, a joint venture between Go-Ahead Group (65%) and Keolis (35%).

The Southern and Gatwick Express brand identities will be retained alongside those of Thameslink and Great Northern, however. GTR has been running the Thameslink and Great Northern services since September 2014, when it took over from First Capital Connect.

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Link leads to an interactive version of the above network map

Upgrades already include 29 new Electrostar four-car Class 387/1s on the Thameslink route, themselves to be soon replaced by the Siemens-built Class 700 fleet. The Gatwick Express fleet is also being modernised.

A spokesperson for GTR said in a statement that the franchise fusion would allow them to “invest heavily in a better service for passengers”.

He added: “We’ve already brought in new trains on the Brighton Main Line and, as one company, we’ll be able to completely recast this route’s timetable in December to give passengers a more reliable service.”

The larger franchise will introduce nearly 1,400 new train carriages across its network along with 10,000 additional morning peak seats on crowded services to London in order to increase capacity by 50%.

GTR guaranteed that several stations would be upgraded with more than £50m being spent on the investment, from “improving access to free wi-fi” and extended Smartcard ticketing. They will also make the way they calculate ‘delay repay’ compensation for Southern and Gatwick Express customers the same as Thameslink and Great Northern, which is 5% more.

Other operational changes will include dropping the on-board trolley service as Southern said that this is “no longer our customers’ preferred service”.

Top image c. Andrew Matthews


Nonsuchmike   24/07/2015 at 13:38

Ah! But will they be able to supply sufficient rota drivers and relief drivers (because of illnesses & other "no shows") to drive all these trains they promise, plus improve the service where sardine standing for passengers is the order of the day - every day? I would like to think they will, but my experience of TOCs and lack of competition within any group sways me towards the opinion that these boastful words may come back to haunt them.

Andrew Gwilt   24/07/2015 at 14:52

Southern and Gatwick Express to merge with Thameslink and Great Northern tomorrow to merge as a new franchise known as Thameslink Southern & Great Northern (TSGN) with the Siemens Class 700's to be built and to be in service in 2017 and Bombardier to build 27x Class 387/2's for Gatwick Express.

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