UK: The Department for Transport announced the shortlisted bidders for the next South Eastern passenger franchise on June 22. They are:

  • South Eastern Holdings Ltd (NS’s Abellio Transport Group, East Japan Railway and Mitsui & Co);
  • London & South East Passenger Rail Services Ltd (Govia 65:35 joint venture of Go-Ahead and Keolis UK);
  • Stagecoach South Eastern Trains Ltd (Stagecoach Group);
  • Trenitalia UK Ltd (Italian national passenger operator Trenitalia).

The next South Eastern franchise is planned to start in December 2018. It covers regional and commuter passenger services southeast of London, including domestic services on High Speed 1, and currently handles around 640 000 passenger-journeys on 1 900 services every weekday. The current contract is held by Govia, which has operated the services under the Southeastern brand since 2006. ‘We hope to continue our journey under a new franchise’, said Keolis UK Chief Executibe Alistair Gordon.

DfT’s public consultation on plans for the next franchise runs until June 30. Its ambitions include ‘creating more space for passengers on modern comfortable trains’, increasing reliability, reducing delays through closer co-operation between the operator and Network Rail, improving compensation arrangements, supporting smart ticketing and improving customer service, ‘with staff able to respond quickly and effectively, including during disruption’.

‘We want passengers to be at the heart of everything that the new operator does, enjoying modern, spacious trains on a more punctual and reliable service’, said Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling. ‘We will listen to what passengers say in the current public consultation, and we will seek to make changes and improvements only with their support.’

Trenitalia’s bid marks ‘the first time we are participating in a UK bidding process alone, said CEO Barbara Morgante. ‘After being awarded the pre-qualification questionnaire passport less than two years ago, we are already delivering and demonstrating our commitment to the British market.’, She said Trenitalia’s Italian experience ‘perfectly matches the unique characteristics required on the South Eastern franchise’, including ‘cutting edge high speed services and a top-quality offer to daily commuters.’

  • Amey Rail Ltd and SNCF C3 have applied for a pre-qualification questionnaire passport, enabling them to express an interest in all upcoming franchise competitions until September 2019.