The competition to find the next train operating company (TOC) to run the South Eastern franchise has been launched by the Department for Transport (DfT).
The headline announcement is the appointment of a single director who will be responsible for a joint TOC and Network Rail team, which will be responsible for track and train and accountable for the network’s performance.
This will be the first case in the country where sole responsibility for running day to day train and track operations falls to a joint team.
DfT said that the next operator must also provide longer trains and upgrade or replace older trains, creating space for at least an extra 40,000 passengers.
Improved compensation schemes, smart ticketing systems and faster wi-fi connections are also specified in the tender, as is the removal of first-class accommodation within 18 months of the new franchise.
In June, the DfT announced that four bidders were shortlisted for the South Eastern franchise. They are:
- South Eastern, a joint venture between Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui;
- London and South East Passenger Rail, a wholly owned subsidiary of Govia;
- Stagecoach South Eastern Trains, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stagecoach Group;
- Trenitalia UK, wholly owned by Trenitalia.
Rail minister Paul Maynard said: “Today marks a major step forward in giving passengers better journeys across the south-east and beyond.
“We’ve listened carefully to passengers and have introduced innovative new plans that see smoother, more comfortable journeys for passengers, with new, longer trains and more space.
“South Eastern will be also – for the first time – be run by a joint team from the operator and Network Rail under a single director – responsible for day-to day performance and accountable to passengers.”
The new franchise is expected to begin in December 2018.