The new South Eastern franchise will be run by a joint team from the operator and Network Rail under a single director who will be responsible for day-to day performance and accountable to passengers.
“Our proposal for a collaboration with Alstom to bid for the South Eastern rail franchise aims to combine Alstom’s knowledge of infrastructure and rolling stock, with our operational expertise and customer service focus,” says Stagecoach’s chief executive, Mr Martin Griffiths. “The proposed arrangement supports our vision of delivering a more integrated and innovative rail service... on what is one of the busiest rail networks in the UK.”
The South Eastern franchise carries 640,000 passengers a day on services linking London Victoria, Charing Cross and Cannon Street with Dartford, Chatham, Canterbury, Margate, Dover, Folkestone and Hastings, as well as domestic high-speed services on HS1 between London St Pancras, Ashford and other destinations in Kent.
The companies chosen to bid for the new South Eastern franchise are:
• South Eastern Holdings, a joint venture of Abellio, East Japan Railway (JR East) and Mitsui
• London and South East Passenger Rail Services, a subsidiary of Govia the current operator of the franchise which is a joint venture of Go-Ahead and Keolis, and
• Stagecoach South Eastern Trains, a subsidiary of Stagecoach Group with Alstom.
The Trenitalia UK subsidiary of Italian State Railways was also selected to bid, but subsequently withdrew.
The new operator will be expected to:
• operate longer trains and upgrade or replace older trains, creating space for at least an extra 40,000 passengers
• introduce WiFi on all services
• introduce an improved compensation system for passengers to provide a refund after 15 minutes
• introduce smart ticketing, including a pilot for pay-as-you-go,
• remove first-class accommodation on all services within 18 months of taking over the franchise, and
• improve customer service.