Posted 23rd May 2014 | 9 Comments
Govia chosen for new Thameslink contract
THE Department for Transport has announced that Govia is the winner of the new Thameslink contract.
The seven-year franchise includes three new fleets of trains. The largest is the Siemens Class 700 fleet, amounting to 1,140 vehicles, which is now under construction in Germany.
But Govia has also undertaken to provide new fleets for Gatwick Express and the Great Northern services between Hertfordshire and Moorgate.
The new franchise is the largest ever let, and will carry more passengers than any other. The routes involved currently carry around 273 million passengers a year.
The contract also includes investment in stations and staffing. Staff hours will be extended at more than 100 stations, so that there will always be staff on duty while trains are running.
The DfT said there would be a 'simplified ticketing structure'. Delays are to be reduced by a fifth and there are high cleanliness targets. Other improvements include 'better retail and catering facilities', plus free wi-fi at more than 100 stations.
The new Gatwick Express fleet will consist of 108 vehicles, while the Great Northern inner suburban services will have 150 new vehicles to replace the venerable Class 313 units on the route, which are almost 40 years old.
Rail minister Stephen Hammond said: “A world class railway is a vital part of our long-term economic plan. New state-of-the-art trains, more seats, better connections and improved stations will transform travel across London and the South East. That’s great news for businesses and the hundreds of thousands of passengers who use these vital services every day.”
Govia has beaten off four rivals to win Thameslink, including the present incumbent FirstGroup. The other three on the shortlist were Abellio, MTR and Stagecoach.
Govia is a joint venture with 65 per cent owned by Go-Ahead Group and the rest by French transport operator Keolis.
Go-Ahead chief executive David Brown said: “I’m delighted the DfT has chosen us to operate this important and complex franchise and to play an instrumental role in delivering the benefits of the Government’s £6 billion Thameslink Programme. This will be the UK’s busiest franchise and we will be introducing 50 per cent more capacity into central London during peak times, with 26 per cent more morning peak carriages providing 10,000 additional seats."
The decision has come as a blow to FirstGroup, which has been operating the Thameslink network as First Capital Connect since April 2006.
First's chief executive Tim O’Toole said: “I am disappointed that we will not be operating the new franchise and taking the Thameslink Programme on to its next stage. We submitted a strong bid which would have delivered high quality services for passengers, value for taxpayers and an economic return for shareholders.
"We are tremendously proud to have operated a significant part of this network over the past eight years through our First Capital Connect franchise, and of the many improvements we have delivered during that time. I would like to thank all of our employees who worked tirelessly to deliver improved services for our customers during a period of great change."
The transfer will take place on 14 September this year, and the present Southern operation will be merged with the Thameslink and Great Northern routes on 26 July 2015. A small number of services and stations will also be transferred from Southeastern by 21 December this year, the DfT added.
The new franchise is understood to be a form of management contract, but the DfT has not yet released any financial details.
The award is due to be confirmed after the mandatory 10-day standstill period.
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