Govia, the joint venture between international transport operators Keolis and Go-Ahead Group, has secured a Direct Award Contract from the Department for Transport (DfT) to continue operating the Southeastern franchise.


The UK’s first high speed rail route, Southeastern is one of the busiest rail networks in the country, completing 640,000 passenger journeys every weekday.

The service has been operated by Govia since 2006, with punctuality up nearly 10 per cent in the past two years, and customer satisfaction hitting a six-year high, of 81 per cent, in the most recent National Rail Passenger Survey.

Under the new contract, Govia will deliver a range of customer service improvements, including boosting capacity through additional rolling stock, and through continued partnership with Network Rail, to develop a long-term capacity, rolling stock and punctuality strategy for the network beyond 2022.

In the short term, it will focus on providing services for key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Alistair Gordon, CEO of Keolis UK, said: “As one of the UK’s busiest networks, the role of Southeastern in supporting our key workers during this unprecedented time has never been more important.

“We’re proud of our track record at Southeastern and the improvements we have delivered for passengers in recent years. This new contract is an opportunity to build on those successes and continue delivering improvements to the passenger experience.”


Commencing on 1st April 2020, the contract will run for 18 months, with the option to extend by a further six months until 31st March 2022.

The new arrangement is a management contract, reflecting the DfT’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic announced on 23 March 2020, removing exposure to changes in passenger demand and costs. The management fee will be set at a maximum of 2 per cent of Southeastern’s cost base before the pandemic began.


David Brown, Go-Ahead CEO, commented: “This new contract provides continuity and stability during a challenging time.  The immediate priority remains the health and wellbeing of colleagues and customers, and to support society by providing an essential service for key workers.”


Keolis operates Southeastern as part of the Govia partnership. Govia is a joint venture between the Go-Ahead Group (65%) and Keolis (35%). As the country’s busiest rail operator, Govia is responsible for 5,500 services and more than one million passengers per day. It operates a fleet of 841 trains, serving 484 stations.

The extension is Keolis’ second in a matter of months, with KeolisAmey Docklands (KAD) having been awarded a 4-year extension to their current contract to operate the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in December 2019.

Globally, Keolis operates some of the world’s busiest transportation systems in 21 major cities worldwide.