A brand new rail franchise that will deliver new trains, more seats and faster journeys on some of London’s busiest routes was launched by Rail Minister Claire Perry today (15 September 2014).
The Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise will transform journeys for millions of passengers across the capital and help to deliver the government’s multi-billion pound investment in the region’s rail network.
The franchise will initially serve destinations including Brighton, King’s Lynn, Peterborough, Cambridge, Bedford, Luton and Gatwick, with destinations including; Southampton, Milton Keynes, Hastings, Eastbourne and Sevenoaks being added over the next year.
Claire Perry said:
The new TSGN franchise will be at the forefront of the massive investment we are making in the rail network in London and the South East. Passengers can look forward to new trains, more seats, improved stations and better services, and today marks the very start of that journey.
This is all part of our plan to support economic growth by building a world-class rail network fit for the 21st century.
The 7-year franchise, the largest-ever let in terms of passenger numbers with around 273 million passenger journeys annually, was awarded to Govia Thameslink Railway Ltd earlier this year.
It will play a central role in delivering the government’s £6.5 billion Thameslink Programme, a major programme of infrastructure and fleet improvements that will allow 24 trains per hour at peak times to run between Blackfriars and St Pancras as well as delivering longer trains, new connections and improved stations, including a rebuilt London Bridge station.
As part of this upgrade programme, a fleet of state-of-the-art new electric trains, comprising more than 1,100 new carriages, will be introduced on the Thameslink network, improving services to scores of destinations, including a connection at Farringdon to Crossrail.
New carriages will also be introduced on the Gatwick Express and Moorgate routes, replacing the ageing trains currently in operation. In total, the new carriages will provide 50% more capacity and 10,000 extra seats every weekday into central London during the morning peak by the end of 2018.
Millions of pounds will also be invested in improving stations and staffing, with tough new targets to improve train punctuality and cleanliness; while website, smartphone and tablet apps will be developed for passengers.
The TSGN franchise replaces the previous Thameslink and Great Northern franchise, operated as First Capital Connect. It will also include the South Central franchise (operated as Southern and Gatwick Express) when it expires on 26 July 2015, and a small number of services and stations will transfer from the Southeastern franchise by 21 December 2014.