RNS Number : 6893B
Department For Transport
20 August 2008
20 August 2008
Stock Exchange/Press statement
For immediate release: 0700hrs 20 August 2008
BIDDERS FOR SOUTH CENTRAL FRANCHISE ANNOUNCED
The Department for Transport today announced the list of shortlisted bidders for the new South Central franchise. They are:
NedRailways South Central Limited (NedRailways Limited)
NXSC Trains Limited (National Express Group plc)
Southern Railway Limited (Govia Limited)
Southern Trains Limited (Stagecoach Group plc)
DfT has recently consulted on proposals for the franchise, which included plans to increase capacity by around 10% overall. The consultation also stated that the winner must help facilitate the East London Line Extension from 2010 and the £5.5bn Thameslink Programme, both of which will provide a significant increase in capacity in and through London, once operational.
Other proposed improvements include smartcards rolled out throughout the franchise area, safer stations, later running services, improved reliability and better environmental performance. Passenger Focus have also advised the Department on key priorities for the new franchise.
Rail Minister Tom Harris said:
'We look forward to seeing strong bids from each of the competitors for this important franchise. We want passengers across the franchise area to see improvements - longer trains, safer stations and later running services.
'It's also vital that the winner of this franchise helps facilitate the delivery of major projects that, when complete, will substantially increase capacity on some of the busiest parts of the rail network.'
Responses to the consultation, which closed on 14 August, will inform the Invitation to Tender which will be issued in the autumn. The successful bidder is expected to be announced in early summer 2009.
The franchise will commence on 20 September 2009 and is for five years and ten months (expiring in July 2015), with the final year dependent on achieving acceptable performance levels.
Notes to Editors:
1. The new South Central franchise will be formed from the existing Southern franchise which incorporated the Gatwick Express franchise from 22 June 2008 and will also include the Tonbridge - Redhill element of the current Southeastern service from December 2008.
2. It was announced in 2007 that the Gatwick Express will be retained as a non-stop service between Gatwick Airport and London every 15 minutes and at the busiest times of day the service will also run beyond Gatwick to Brighton, doubling the number of express trains between Brighton and London Victoria in the high peak. At least two extra trains will also run between Redhill and London in the peak as well as additional Redhill to London services off-peak. These service changes will start in December 2008.
3. The franchise will include an ability to extend by up to two years from July 2015 at the Department's discretion.
4. The consultation on the services that the future operator of the South Central franchise will provide closed on 14 August 2008. It is available on the DfT website.
5. For further information please contact the Department for Transport press office on 020 7944 3108 or visit www.dft.gov.uk.
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