Southern and Thameslink rail franchise to be split up

The franchise running Southern, Thameslink, and Gatwick Express trains is due to be split up when the contract is retendered in 2021, the Government has confirmed.

Govia Thameslink Railway has run the vast majority of rail services in Sussex since 2014, but infrastructure, management, and staffing problems combined with industrial action led to severe and repeated delays for passengers from late 2015 into this year.

The size of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise has been blamed as a contributing factor to the problems experienced by the rail operator. The Government’s ‘strategic vision for rail’, unveiled this morning (Wednesday November 29), announced a shift to smaller train companies, with the TSGN franchise set to be split up in 2021 ‘as planned’.

Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, said: “The last few years have seen massive growth on Britain’s railways. This industry has reversed decades of decline under British Rail, delivered new investment and new trains, and doubled the number of passengers. “But now we need to build on that success by building a new model for the 2020s and beyond, one more able to deal with the huge rise in passenger numbers and the challenges of an increasingly congested network. Rail passengers deserve a more reliable, more efficient service – and I will deliver it by ending the one-size-fits-all approach of franchising and bringing closer together the best of the public and private sector.”

Tim Loughton, East Worthing and Shoreham MP, said: “It is good news that the GTR franchise is to be broken up - it was always too big to manage and by a company that couldn’t manage it properly in any case.”

The document says: “In 2014, the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise brought together two different franchises under one management contract to support the delivery of the Thameslink Programme. “The current franchise will come up for renewal in 2021 and with the completion of the Thameslink Programme the Government’s intention is to split the franchise into two or more new franchises.

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