Three new state-of-the-art electric train fleets will mean more services and seats, faster journeys and better connections across many of the busiest rail routes in London and the southeast. The government announced its intention to award the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise to Govia Thameslink Railway Limited.
Nearly 1,400 new electric carriages will be rolled out across the new franchise, providing 50% more capacity and 10,000 extra seats every weekday into central London during the morning peak by the end of 2018, and delivering quicker, cleaner and more reliable journeys for passengers and businesses.
The 7 year franchise, the largest ever let in terms of passenger numbers, it will help deliver the government’s multi-billion pound investment into the region’s rail network, opening up new routes across London and improving services to scores of destinations, including Brighton, King’s Lynn, Peterborough, Cambridge, Bedford, Luton, Gatwick Airport and Moorgate.
In addition, the new franchise will see millions invested in improving stations and staffing, a simplified ticketing structure and tough new targets for Govia to improve punctuality by reducing delays by around a fifth and improve cleanliness.
Rail Minister Stephen Hammond has said, “The TSGN franchise will play a crucial role in delivering the government’s £6.5 billion Thameslink programme. A major programme of infrastructure work that is helping create 8,000 jobs and will allow 24 trains per hour to travel in each direction from Blackfriars to St Pancras. New tunnels will link Peterborough and Cambridge to the existing Thameslink route, providing easy access across London via St Pancras to Gatwick and Brighton.
A world class railway is a vital part of our long-term economic plan. New state-of-the-art trains, more seats, better connections and improved stations will transform travel across London and the southeast. That’s great news for businesses and the hundreds of thousands of passengers who use these vital services every day.”
The franchise will introduce 1,140 new carriages, already under construction, on the Thameslink network, improving services to scores of destinations, including the introduction of new cross capital services and a connection at Farringdon to London’s newest railway, Crossway.
In addition, Govia will order a new fleet of 108 carriages for the Gatwick Express service, replacing the current 25-year-old trains with a fleet better suited to the needs of airport passengers. It will also secure 150 new carriages to replace the 40-year-old trains currently operating on the route between Moorgate, north London and Hertfordshire.
That means the total number of carriages in service will grow to 2,631 by 2019, an increase of 27%. It will also release some existing electric carriages to be used elsewhere in the country.
Govia will invest significantly in improving stations, including free wi-fi at more than 100 stations, better retail and catering facilities and improvements to customer information systems. Staffing hours will also be extended so that at more than 100 of the largest stations, there will be staff available from the first train in the morning to the last train at night.
Demanding contractual obligations on the operator will deliver cleaner and more spacious trains and improve passenger satisfaction. Tough new benchmarks for performance, train and station cleanliness and customer service information have also been agreed.
The operator will also develop website, smartphone and tablet apps that will make door-to-door travel easier for customers, including planning journeys, buying tickets and booking onward taxis.
This announcement comes at the same time as research by German engineering giant Siemens, who have said that the proposed express rail link from Surrey to Hertfordshire and other areas was pivotal to help boost London’s economy and meet the demands of a booming population.
London was third behind New York, £15 billion, and Moscow, £14.5 billion, in the survey of 35 cities, which looked at the potential for strategic transport spending to boost productivity.
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