Rail franchising

All current documents relating to rail franchising at the Department for Transport.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is the franchising authority for the rail network.

DfT is responsible for designing and procuring new and replacement rail franchise services on the national rail network.

Passenger service contracts

Passenger service contracts will replace rail passenger franchising.

Cross Country franchise

An intercity franchise that provides passenger services across the whole country stretching from Aberdeen to Penzance, Bournemouth to Manchester and Stansted to Cardiff.

East Anglia franchise

A commuter and regional franchise providing passenger services between London (Liverpool Street), Colchester, Ipswich, Norwich as well as local and regional services across the east of England.

East Midlands franchise

An intercity and regional franchise that provides passenger services between London (St Pancras), the East Midlands and Yorkshire (Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, Sheffield, Leeds) and all the central England services linking Nottingham; Derby, Worksop, Lincoln, Cleethorpes, Skegness, Leicester and Cambridge.

Essex Thameside franchise

A commuter franchise providing services into London from south-east Essex along the Thames.

Great Western franchise

A commuter and intercity franchise including high speed train services between London (Paddington), South Wales, the Cotswolds, the West Country, and rural services.

InterCity East Coast franchise

An intercity franchise providing long distance services between London (Kings Cross) and Aberdeen. Its services call at the major cities of London, Peterborough, Doncaster, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

InterCity West Coast franchise

An intercity franchise that provides passenger services between London (Euston), the West Midlands, north-west England, north Wales and Scotland. Its services call at London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. (See also West Coast Partnership.)

London and the south-east

Northern franchise

A regional franchise consisting of a range of inter-urban, commuter and rural services throughout the north of England.

South Eastern franchise

A commuter franchise that operates passenger services in the south-east London suburbs, the whole of Kent and part of Sussex, which are primarily commuter services to and from central London.

South Western franchise

A commuter and regional franchise that operates an intensive network of suburban and long distance services between London Waterloo, south-west London, and towns and cities in the south-west of England, including the Island Line services on the Isle of Wight.

Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise

A commuter interurban and regional franchise bringing together Thameslink and Great Northern services with Southern services.

Thameslink provides intensive inter-urban services across London (including the key stations of St Pancras International and London Bridge) and to the north and south of the city (between Bedford and Brighton) and out to East Croydon, Gatwick Airport and Brighton.

Great Northern runs between London King’s Cross and Moorgate to Hertford North, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn.

Southern operates predominantly commuter services between London, Surrey and Sussex, plus Gatwick and Brighton, as well as south coast services between Southampton, Brighton, Hastings and Ashford. It also operates Metro services in south London and the Gatwick Express service.

TransPennine Express franchise

An intercity and regional providing long distance inter-urban services, across both north-east and north-west England including to Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Manchester Airport.

Wales and Borders franchise

West Coast Partnership franchise

The West Coast Partnership rail franchise will combine the existing InterCity West Coast (ICWC) services with the development and introduction of services on the new high speed network, High Speed 2 (HS2).

The new franchise operator will run services on the West Coast Main Line from 2019. They will also design and run the initial high speed services from 2026 and the redesigned ICWC services when HS2 is launched. The franchise operator will need to set a new global standard in rail travel; bringing together the highly successful existing conventional Intercity West Coast Mainline rail services and the new high speed services.

West Midlands franchise

A commuter and regional franchise providing passenger services between Birmingham and the Midlands and major cities and towns including London (Euston), Milton Keynes, Northampton, Liverpool, Stafford, Stoke and Crewe. It also provides local and regional services across the West Midlands.

Rail franchising PQQ passport

The pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) passport for rail franchising covers all rail franchise competitions held between September 2015 and September 2019. Passport holders can express an interest for any future franchise competition without having to submit the same detailed technical information each time – saving time and reducing costs.

Current PQQ passport holders are:

  • Abellio Transport Group Limited
  • Amey Rail Limited
  • Arriva UK Trains Limited
  • East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Company Limited (Consortium)
  • First Rail Holdings Limited
  • Go-Ahead Holding Limited
  • Govia Limited
  • Keolis (UK) Limited
  • Metroline Rail Limited
  • MTR Corporation (UK) Limited
  • National Express Trains Limited
  • Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori SpA (NTV)
  • Renfe Viajeros Sociedad Mercantil Estatal SA
  • SNCF C3
  • Stagecoach Group Plc
  • Transdev Plc
  • Trenitalia SpA
  • Virgin Holdings Limited

Specialist technical advice for rail framework

Rail franchising: background information

Rail franchising: further information

Published 3 October 2013
Last updated 23 December 2022 + show all updates
  1. Added Cross Country rail services prior information notice.

  2. Added 'West Coast Partnership prior information notice (corrigendum)'.

  3. Added East Midlands Railway prior information notice (corrigendum).

  4. Added prior information notice for Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern.

  5. A prior information notice for the West Coast Partnership has been published.

  6. 'Abellio announced as new operator for East Midlands' announcement published.

  7. East Midlands direct award.

  8. 'Government announces 'root and branch' review of rail' news story published.

  9. East Midlands franchise invitation to tender and Cross Country franchise consultation.

  10. East Coast rail update.

  11. West Coast Partnership 2018 invitation to tender and Future of InterCity West Coast rail franchise consultation outcome.

  12. Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori SpA, Renfe Viajeros Sociedad Mercantil Estatal SA and Transdev Plc added to the list of PQQ passport holders.

  13. Oral ministerial statement on East Coast, West Coast and East Midlands franchises.

  14. Future of South Eastern rail services consultation outcome and South Eastern franchise 2017 invitation to tender and Great Western rail franchise consultation added.

  15. Wales and Borders 2018 rail franchise procurement.

  16. West Midlands Trains Ltd announced to run the West Midlands franchise.

  17. Published Rail franchises operational performance figures and benchmarks and East Midlands consultation.

  18. West Coast Partnership (WCP) and South Eastern rail franchise bidders announced.

  19. South Eastern rail franchise competition prospectus.

  20. First MTR South Western Trains Limited wins South Western rail franchise.

  21. Future of South Eastern rail services consultation.

  22. South Eastern franchise competition: expression of interest documentation added to page.

  23. West Coast Partnership franchise prospectus released.

  24. East Midlands franchise competition expression of interest documentation.

  25. West Coast Partnership franchise competition: expression of interest documentation added to page.

  26. West Coast Mainline short term contract prior information notice (PIN) plus updates to the rail franchise schedule and rail franchising PQQ passport OJEU notice.

  27. West Coast Partnership franchise.

  28. Metroline Rail Ltd added to pre-qualification questionnaire passport holders.

  29. Invitation to tender for the West Midlands rail franchise 2016.

  30. East Anglia franchise announced.

  31. Invitation to tender for the South Western rail franchise 2016.

  32. Rail franchising schedule.

  33. Updated rail franchising schedule, passport and rolling stock perspective.

  34. Rail franchising overview, aims and expectations published.

  35. Two companies shortlisted to compete for the next South Western rail franchise announced.

  36. Proposal for a new approach to rail passenger services in London and the south east.

  37. News story published announcing that DfT has officially signed the Northern and TransPennine Express contracts.

  38. Rail franchising pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) passport award announced.

  39. New Northern and TransPennine Express franchises announced.

  40. Added 'South Western franchise competition: expression of interest documentation' and 'South Western franchise competition prospectus'.

  41. South Western rail franchise consultation published.

  42. Rail franchising passport pre-qualification documentation published.

  43. East Midlands franchise awarded.

  44. List of rail franchising documents updated.

  45. First published.