Passengers in London and the South East are to benefit from more frequent rail services, improved stations, more staff and better security, as Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis today marked the start of the new South Central franchise, which has been successfully retained by Southern’s parent company Govia.
Andrew Adonis said:
“This new franchise will provide passengers in London and the South East with a better quality of service, more trains at busy times and better station and on-train security.
"The railways must work for passengers – which is why we’ve worked closely with rail user groups such as Passenger Focus in drawing up this franchise. It’s also encouraging that four candidates entered bids for the franchise, showing that there is still a strong level of interest in running rail services."
The new franchise, which Govia will continue to call Southern, was launched in Eastbourne following a range of improvements to Eastbourne station. The improvements include a deep clean of the entire station, repainting, provision of new customer information zones and signage, additional cycle storage and a new £30,000 passenger lounge, with new customer information screens to be installed shortly. During his visit to the station, Lord Adonis was shown the improvements before formally opening the new passenger lounge.
Keith Ludeman, Chairman of Govia said: “The new franchise will deliver innovation and visible improvements to the trains and stations used by Southern’s passengers. We are pleased to be able to provide continuity on the network and build on the successes of the Southern team which were achieved during the previous franchise.”
Chris Burchell, Managing Director of Southern said: “There is an exciting array of improvements ahead for passengers. We will grow capacity, improve security even further and provide better service quality at every stage of the passenger journey. We will also develop more ways to listen to and meet the needs of our passengers. The successes of Southern in this new franchise will transform this network and support improvements to the wider railway in the South-East.
“Our relationships with key stakeholders such as the DfT, Network Rail, Transport for London and Passenger Focus will be vital in supporting our plans to deliver a better railway. These next few years are an exciting time of real change for the railways and Southern is proud to be taking a leading role in supporting this as we start our new franchise.”
Since the start of the franchise on September 20, Southern has already delivered a number of new initiatives. These include the launch of a new Passenger Panel and website, more disabled car parking at ten stations, a more rigorous approach to graffiti removal and a new audit system which will measure service standards on trains and station.
The new franchise will run for five years and ten months until 25 July 2015, with the possibility of a two year extension should the DfT require this.