Govia wins TSGN franchise
The Department for Transport has awarded the combined Thameslink, Southern & Great Northern franchise to Govia Thameslink Railway Ltd. The new seven year franchise – which will be the UK’s largest -takes effect from 14 September 2014, though the Southern portion will not be transferred till that franchise expires in July 2015.
The news comes as a setback for FirstGroup, the incumbent operator of the Thameslink Great Northern franchise (which has traded as First Capital Connect since 2006). Other unsuccessful bidders for the new mega-franchise were MTR of Hong Kong, and Abellio (part of the Dutch state railway, NS).
Combined, the existing FCC and Southern franchises carries 273 million passenger journeys per year, employs 6,500 staff, and generates annual passenger revenues of £1.3bn.
Govia is joint venture between the Go-Ahead Group (65%) and Keolis (35%).
Govia will provide around 1,400 new electric carriages (though 1,140 of these are already under construction for the revamped Thameslink service). There will be 108 new carriages for the Gatwick Express services (by 2016), and 150 new carriages for the Moorgate Great Northern trains (by 2018).
The total number of carriages is expected to grow to 2,631 by 2019, an increase of 27%: “We will be introducing 50% more capacity into central London during peak times, with 26% more morning peak carriages providing 10,000 additional seats,” said David Brown, Go-Ahead Group’s chief executive.
The new franchise covers a huge swathe of southern England and takes in a wide range of destinations linking Peterborough, King’s Lynn and Cambridge via London with Brighton and the south coast.
The deal also includes £50m to enhance all 239 stations, and station staffing hours are to be extended. Tougher performance targets have been agreed as well.
The new franchise will be let as a management contract with passenger revenues transferred to the government, “due to the complexity and scale of the planned changes to services and infrastructure.” Passenger revenues are expected to generate over £12.4bn during the franchise’s lifetime, with Govia estimated to receive£8.9bn in DfT payments.
A DfT decision on the Essex Thameside franchise (currently run by National Express) is imminent.