Transport secretary Chris Grayling has previously indicated that the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise could be separated into two or more when the current contract held by operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) ends in 2021. This follows the completion of the multi-billion-pound Thameslink programme in May 2018.
But, reading an oral statement to the Houses of Parliament on May 16, Grayling has suggested that some Great Northen services could be transferred to Transport for London’s (TfL) London Overground network, which is currently operated by Arrival Rail London.
Grayling said that any change would be subject to consultation. However, he has already held initial discussions with London mayor Sadiq Kahn, who has previously called for the government to give TfL responsibility for more of the capital’s rail services.
Network Rail non-executive director Chris Gibb also backed the move in his 2017 report into the GTR franchise.
Another option Grayling detailed was to integrate Great Northern services from Kings Cross into the operations of new train operating company London North Eastern Railway (LNER), for which, he said, there is an operational case.
Department for Transport officials and the new LNER route board will be conducting a feasibility study into this option.