Southeastern Siemens Mobility Class 707 EMU (Photo Southeastern)

UK: Southeastern services were transferred to the SE Trains subsidiary of the Department for Transport’s Operator of Last Resort when the directly-awarded management contract held by Govia’s London South Eastern Railway expired at 02.00 on October 17.

DfT had an option to extend the contract to March 31 2022, but on September 28 Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps announced that the services would instead be nationalised.

This followed an investigation which had found evidence that LSER had not declared more than £25m of historic taxpayer funding which should have been returned.

Business as usual

Southeastern is being retained as the customer-facing brand, and there will be no changes in day-to-day services as a result of the transfer.

The Managing Director of Southeastern is Steve White, who joined on October 11 from Govia Thameslink Railway where he was Deputy CEO.

Steve White 300 dpi

‘I am delighted that the transfer has gone so smoothly’, White said. ‘For our passengers and colleagues it’s very much business as usual. Our focus now is squarely on winning back our customers to travel on the railway.’

He said passengers could expect ‘investment in our fleet and stations, flexible ticketing and new technology to ensure journeys are as comfortable and convenient as possible. Our customers deserve punctual, reliable and sustainable services — and we will continue to develop our timetable to ensure we’re meeting our customers’ needs.’

DfT OLR Holdings Ltd also has responsibility for LNER and Northern services. Its CEO Robin Gisby is Chair of SE Trains Ltd. ‘We have a very experienced team to confidently take the business forward and there are many exciting improvements for passengers to look forward to, including the continued roll-out of new trains’, Gisby said. ‘I’d like to thank the Southeastern team for their hard work and professionalism during the transition.’

In the medium term, the government plans to move operation of Southeastern services back into the private sector using the Passenger Services Contracts which it is developing to replace the franchising system and the temporary contracts put in place during the pandemic.