Keolis through its joint venture Govia(1) has been awarded a National Rail Contract (NRC) to continue operating Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), by the Department for Transport.
The new contract is for an initial three years starting from 1st April 2022 to 2025, with the option for a three extension to 2028. Keolis and its joint venture partner the Go-Ahead Group (Govia) have operated the GTR rail network since 2014.
Wendy Morton, Minister for Rail, said:
“As the UK’s largest rail operator, I know GTR will play a key role helping the Government continue delivering our Plan for Rail and revolutionise the lives of passengers.
With their plans for improving the punctuality, reliability, and accessibility of their services through close collaboration with Network Rail, we are proud to partner with GTR to create a truly passenger focused service.”
Alistair Gordon, Keolis UK CEO, said:
“We’re pleased that the hard work of the team at GTR – particularly over the difficult past few years – has been recognised. We are particularly heartened by the commitment of an ambitious green agenda and strengthening the business’ passenger centred approach during the contract. We’re proud to be playing our part in the future of Britain’s railways.”
Christian Schreyer, Go-Ahead CEO, said:
“I’m delighted with today’s announcement. Under this new contract we will build on our achievements in enhancing performance in recent years. We will be working closely and collaboratively with DfT, NR and other partners to run the most reliable service possible, and we will be putting passengers’ interests first.
“A top priority is to build passenger numbers back after the COVID-19 pandemic. Go-Ahead will bring commercial acumen and international experience to bear in encouraging people back to the railways.”
GTR (comprising Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express) delivered 349 million passenger journeys annually prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. GTR manages 235 stations in London and the south-east of England and employs 7,400 people.
The NRC serves as a bridge to the future Passenger Services Contracts intended to be let and managed by Great British Railways in line with the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, announced in May 2021.
During the NRC period, GTR will focus on encouraging more people to return to rail following the pandemic. It will continue to further improve the customer experience, with dedicated funds available for localised station enhancements, for customer and community-led projects, and for projects to remove barriers for disabled people at more of its stations. GTR will continue to improve punctuality and reliability through close collaboration with Network Rail.
Building on its already strong environmental credentials, GTR is aiming to becoming an even greener train operator, working towards phasing out its diesel fleet by 2035, introducing its first zero emission ancillary vehicles in the next 12 months, and aiming to up recycling rates to 80 per cent over the next three years.
Acknowledging the value of diversity, GTR will set targets aimed to build on its positive work to increase female and ethnic minority representation amongst both train driver recruits and in engineering/technical apprenticeships.
Since 2014, Govia has worked with industry partners to deliver the Thameslink Programme which has transformed journeys to, through and within London. More than 1,500 new railway carriages (replacing some of the country’s oldest fleets), over 1,000 station improvement projects and industry leading smartcards and tools have all been delivered for customers. Performance has improved with a steady increase in customer satisfaction over a five-year period.
Note to editors
1. Govia was formed in November 1996 as a joint venture between Go-Ahead Group (65%) and Keolis (35%).