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Southeastern rail franchise extended to 2018

Southeastern is to continue running rail passenger services on the South Eastern franchise until 2018, following successful negotiations with the DfT for a new directly awarded franchise agreement. 

The new franchise contract, which runs from 12 October 2014 to June 2018, will include a host of schemes for the Govia subsidiary to roll out to improve services for passengers. 

The deal will include at least £70m investment in better customer information systems, additional staff and maintenance to stations and trains along the route, which operates services between London, Kent and parts of East Sussex. 

In particular, as part of the contract, there will be a new timetable delivering more high-speed services, and new journey opportunities designed to help passengers during the three-year rebuild of London Bridge station as part of the £6.5bn Thameslink Programme. 

More than 95,000 extra seats across the network, including 1,000 extra seats on Southeastern’s high-speed services will be delivered; and high-speed services will be calling at Snodland, Martin Mill and Walmer for the first time, along with extra high-speed services for Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate. 

There is also a commitment to work with TfL to roll out Oyster acceptance to Dartford and Swanley, and to introduce Oyster on the high-speed service between St Pancras and Stratford International.   

The TOC will also employ up to 75 extra staff who will be deployed to gatelines at key stations and there will be 170 more customer service staff at key stations throughout each major timetable change to help passengers with information and provide advice on alternative travel options. 

David Brown, Go-Ahead chief executive, which owns Southeastern, said: “We’re pleased that the government has put its confidence in Southeastern to deliver further enhancements for passengers. The plans to be delivered offer benefits for passengers, taxpayers and the communities that we serve. 

“Today’s announcement is an endorsement of our record of delivering improving train services, record investment in the route network, better customer service and strong passenger growth over the last eight years. 

“In that time our stations have seen over£100m worth of improvements, making them more accessible, safer and easier to use, and we’ve delivered the UK’s first ever domestic high-speed service and expanded its reach to include more stations in Kent.” 

During the next four years, Southeastern will also ensure that more than 300 trains are refreshed, including toilet upgrades and accessibility improvements on some trains.

Rail minister Claire Perry MP said: “I know passengers on this route haven’t always received the service that they deserve, which is why I am absolutely determined that today marks a fresh start for the South Eastern franchise. 

“This decision has been taken after careful work by the DfT with Go-Ahead Plc, to ensure that the franchise can genuinely improve its services against a challenging backdrop of vital improvements to the tracks and stations on which their trains operate.” 

Martin Abrams, public transport campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport said: "Today's announcement comes with a welcome promise of service improvements, but the fact remains that Southeastern have been given a four-year extension despite having more dissatisfied passengers than anywhere else on the network. Passengers deserve more clarity in how decisions are being made and should have a bigger say in who runs their trains."

(Image copyright Goonerlewis465. Creative Commons) 

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