Press release

Passengers views sought on rail franchise for Kent

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Passengers views wanted to help shape a new franchise for train services.

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Passengers across south east London and Kent are being asked for their views to help shape a new franchise for train services across the area.

The consultation launched by Rail Minister Theresa Villiers today (21 June 2012) gives local communities served by the franchise a chance to say what improvements to train services they would like to see. It also asks for the views of potential bidders on how they will improve service quality for passengers.

Theresa Villiers said:

Before we let this franchise, we want to make sure we make the right decisions to maximise the benefits passengers get from it.

This consultation sets out a range of standards we expect any new operator to deliver as a matter of course, including improvements to stations, rolling out smart ticketing technology, better passenger information and good levels of punctuality. But we also want passengers and anyone else with an interest in the railways to tell us about other ways services could be improved.

The new South Eastern franchise is due to start in April 2014 and run until September 2020 with a possible extension by up to 2 years. The consultation commences on 21 June 2012 and closes on 13 September 2012.

Notes to editors

The new South Eastern franchise is planned to commence on 1 April 2014. The new franchisee will need to manage a period of change to facilitate the delivery of the Thameslink Programme, including dealing with the consequences of the rebuilding of London Bridge station. The franchisee will also have a role in assisting with the delivery of Crossrail services.

We are proposing to align the new South Eastern franchise to terminate at the same time as the combined Thameslink Southern and Great Northern franchise (which is also being consulted on). This is because of the inter-relationship between services covered by the 2 franchises and the degree of change which both networks will experience over the next few years. Although this means a shorter South Eastern franchise than we would normally expect grant, this will help us realise the full benefits of the Thameslink Programme and Crossrail. Scheduling this next South Eastern franchise to end shortly after the completion of these 2 projects will enable the subsequent franchise to be decided in the context of the major changes they will have delivered to public transport in London and the South East

The consultation exercise will help inform what we include in the Invitation to Tender (ITT) which is scheduled to be released in May 2013. The ITT will:

  • require bidders to set out how they will successfully deliver the challenges in this franchise and integrate services to improve the overall service offered to passengers
  • set out a framework of incentives to allow bidders to develop and enhance services where appropriate but also strike the right balance between commercial freedom for the franchise and ensuring that interests of passengers, taxpayers and the economy are suitably protected

We expect bidders will develop a suitable vision for this franchise. Developing a meaningful vision means that bidders will need to take into account value for money, affordability and the deliverability of their plans to address future.

A copy of the consultation document is available on the Department for Transport website

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Published 21 June 2012