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DfT reveals new franchising model for upcoming South Eastern contract

Plans revealed today by the DfT detail a 40,000-passenger capacity increase expected from the next operator of the South Eastern franchise.

The new operator will also have to work under the new ‘one team’ model of franchising, which was announced by transport secretary Chris Grayling this morning, as part of plans to bring track and train closer together and attract private cash.

Proposals will bring both the TOC and Network Rail together under a single director responsible for both infrastructure and operations across the franchise.

This means both public and private bodies will be held responsible for the everyday performance of the network.

Rail minister Paul Maynard, who announced the details of the South Eastern competition, said: “Today marks a major step forward in giving passengers better journeys across the south-east and beyond.

“We’ve listened carefully to passengers and have introduced innovative new plans that see smoother, more comfortable journeys for passengers, with new, longer trains and more space.

“South Eastern will also – for the first time – be run by a joint team from the operator and Network Rail under a single director – responsible for day-to day performance and accountable to passengers.”

In addition to changing the operation model, the minister also unveiled a number of targets that the new operator will have to commit to.

This includes the 40,000-capacity increase, provided by longer and more modern trains, as well as a pledge to introduce fast wi-fi across all services by 2022.

Smart ticketing systems will also be among the terms any new operator will have to accept, with the inclusion of a pilot pay-as-you-go service and an improved compensation system that will provide a refund after 15 minutes.

The DfT says there will be “some limited changes to services,” but South Eastern trains will still travel to the same London stations as at present including Victoria, Charing Cross and Cannon Street.

Amongst the bidders for the franchise – announced in June – are a wholly-owned subsidiary of Govia Ltd called London and South East Passenger Rail Services, as well as a subsidiary of Stagecoach Group called Stagecoach South Eastern Trains Ltd.

Italian company Trenitalia UK Ltd is also being considered as a potential operator, as is South Eastern Railways Ltd – which is currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of Abellio Transport Group Ltd, but if awarded the franchise it would become a subsidiary of South Eastern Holdings Ltd, a joint venture between Abellio and the consortium of East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co.

Following consultation, the DfT received more than 10,000 responses that have influenced the terms set against this competition, which will be completed in August next year with the contract award.

Top image: Class466cuxton

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Andrew Gwilt   29/11/2017 at 18:52

Abellio? MTR? DB Arriva? Trenitalia? First Group? Stagecoach Group? Or Govia to retain the Southeastern franchise. Or could National Express Group could come back to take over the Southeastern franchise. Depends on who will take over from Govia’s Southeastern franchise if Govia were to lose the franchise.

Baffled   30/11/2017 at 01:48

errrrr....what is he on about now??

Andrew Gwilt   30/11/2017 at 02:17

Not gonna argue like last time. Ffs

Lee   30/11/2017 at 07:52

“South Eastern will also – for the first time – be run by a joint team from the operator and Network Rail under a single director – responsible for day-to day performance and accountable to passengers.” Don't want to appear thick but isn't this virtually the same management structure, where the operator is also responsible for the infrastructure under a single director, used by all railway companies in this country from the first plateways right up to privatisation? This is the same structure used by railway companies in other countries so why are we getting excited by this 'new' DfT innovation?

Tothehills   30/11/2017 at 09:55

I would love to see the buck passed wholly to the private sector. No subsidies, the operator pays NR for Track usage, the operator pays the pertinent taxes and in return they get a free run to run the railways as they see fit within in the bounds of safety norms; giving them a cast iron franchise for 30 years so they can take the liabilities of rolling stock as well. All the meddling of HMG just drives up costs.

Isambard Jean-Jacques Brunel   30/11/2017 at 15:53

Andrew, the shortlisted bidders are listed in the article, there is no point in mentioning other entities like National Express or Arriva when they are not bidding.

B Ching   30/11/2017 at 18:52

Andrews speculating that they'll all jump on board for the ITT. Especially when the lucrative Marks Tey-Sudbury line is incorporated into the franchise

Andrew Gwilt   01/12/2017 at 10:18


Andrew JG   02/12/2017 at 11:25

Southeastern have already received 25 Class 377’s (23 377/5’s cascaded from Thameslink and 2 377’s from Southern) to increase the capacity on the North Kent line services and inner-suburban, outer-suburban and long distance commuter services during rush hour such as the Hayes line service that will also work alongside the Class 376’s on some metro services. And have transferred the Class 465’s and Class 466’s to operate on other inner-suburban, outer-suburban and short distance commuter services and some of them are also operating on the Bromley North branch line (Grove Park-Bromley North) and the Sheppey branch line between Sittingbourne and Sheerness-on-Sea to increase capacity and extra seats available on those routes.

Tim Grant   02/03/2018 at 16:10

Be a good move to combine Network Rail and the new TOC for the district. Performance will be improved a closer operational communication with the teams meaning less delays and disruption and free travel for all network rail employees which they deserve.

Graham Jones   03/03/2018 at 16:54

In view of the performance over the wintery conditions of early March, might it not be worth considering breaking up the franchise into more appropriately competitive units, given there are essentially three services vying for the route Dover and beyond? HST from St Pancras, the two lines from Charing Cross and Victoria: is it entirely necessary to have the same decisions affecting traffic on all three services. Is it possibly a good time to consider local services to Deal, Walmer and Sandwich in an entirely different light, given these are consistently made poor relatives, when any crisis occurs?

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