The joint venture (Govia), involving international public transport operator Keolis, has been awarded the contract to operate what will become the country’s largest rail franchise, Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN).

Keolis has won the franchise with its long term partner Go-Ahead under their Govia subsidiary (Go-Ahead 65% / Keolis 35%).

The partners have an established track record of successful joint ventures and currently operate three major UK rail franchises, Southern – which will merge into the newly created franchise – Southeastern and London Midland.

Alistair Gordon, CEO, Keolis UK, said: “We are pleased that the strengths of the Govia partnership have been recognised today in the awarding of this important franchise.

“We now look forward to working with the DfT and local stakeholders as we deliver these exciting new developments to the nation’s rail network.”

David Brown, Group Chief Executive of Go Ahead Group, added:

“Our bid for the franchise was focused on improving customers’ experience. I’m now looking forward to working with existing colleagues and welcoming new staff and together delivering this transformational franchise.”


The seven-year management contract, starting in September 2014, which replaces the Thameslink and Great Northern franchise (operated as First Capital Connect, FCC) will encompass the Southern and Gatwick Express routes from July 2015 and also include a small number of services and stations currently operated by Southeastern which will transfer in December 2014.

The TSGN network will serve London as well as a number of important regional centres, including Cambridge, Luton and Peterborough to the north of the region, and Brighton, Portsmouth and Southampton in the south. It also provides direct rail links to major airports (Gatwick and Luton) as well as St Pancras International and Farringdon station for links to Heathrow and Crossrail in due course.

During the course of the franchise, the Thameslink identity will be re-introduced and Southern and Gatwick Express brands retained.

Combined, the existing FCC and Southern franchises carry 237 million passenger journeys per year, employ around 6,500 people and generate annual passenger revenues of £1.3bn.

Due to the complexity and scale of the planned changes to services and infrastructure the new franchise is let as a management contract where ticket revenues are passed directly to the government rather than retained by the franchisee. We are committed to delivering these changes and managing their impacts on customers.

Benefits for customers during the franchise

New trains

  • 108 new Gatwick Express carriages designed for airline travellers
  • 150 new metro carriages for Moorgate services
  • 1,140 Thameslink Class 700 carriages already ordered from Siemens delivered between 2016 and 2018

More services

  • 10,000 additional morning peak seats into London
  • 26% more morning peak carriages into London
  • 50% more passenger capacity created
  • Improvements to services including:
    • Up to 24 trains per hour during the peak periods through the Thameslink core (St Pancras to Blackfriars) up from 15 per hour today, an increase of 60%
    • More direct services to and from Gatwick Airport including a new direct Cambridge to Brighton service
    • Improved Brighton Main Line services

Stations and staffing

  • £50m investment to enhance all 239 stations including improving access, installing electronic information screens and the redevelopment of St Albans and Luton stations
  • Staffing hours increased: 100 busiest stations staffed from first to last train
  • Simplified ticketing and extension of ‘the key’ smartcard
  • 104 stations with free wifi
  • £1.5m on station access improvements including increased cycle storage and electrical vehicle charging points

Improving Standards

  • Timetables designed to improve punctuality
  • 20,000 days of customer service training for frontline employees
  • Investment in technology such as smartphone apps and websites to improve real-time

Information to make door-to-door travel easier

  • On-hand assistance for passengers during the Thameslink Programme works

Local community focus

  • Continuing support of Community Rail Partnerships
  • Provide young people with work experience and mentoring
  • Award-winning education programme Go-Learn used with local schools
  • £1m per year for local communities to spend on improvements at stations
Thameslink Network