Southeastern (Train Operating Company 2006–2021) - A
Southeastern (Train Operating Company 2006-2021) - A
London & South Eastern Railway Limited, trading as Southeastern, was a British train operating company owned by Govia that operated passenger rail services in South East England. It was the key operator of commuter and regional services in South East London and Kent, and also served parts of East Sussex.
Southeastern commenced operations on 1 April 2006 as the franchisee for the new Integrated Kent franchise (IKF), replacing the publicly owned South Eastern Trains on the former South Eastern franchise. Initially set to operate the franchise for a period of eight years, the company received numerous extensions and was at one point contracted to operate through to 2022.
However, the franchise was terminated early after it was discovered that the company had held onto £25 million of unaccounted-for taxpayer money. On 16 October 2021, operations were transferred to the Department for Transport-owned operator SE Trains, which also trades as Southeastern.
Southeastern served the main London stations of Charing Cross, Victoria, Cannon Street, London Bridge, Waterloo East and St Pancras. The Southeastern network has a route mileage of 540, with 179 stations. About 70% of its services run to and from London.
Southeastern trains operated on three main routes: the South Eastern Main Line from London Cannon Street and London Charing Cross to Dover via Sevenoaks, the Chatham Main Line between London Victoria and Dover/Ramsgate via the Medway towns, and High Speed 1 from London St Pancras.
On 14 December 2009, Southeastern launched full operations of its high-speed services using a purpose-built fleet of British Rail Class 395 high speed trains. Southeastern operated special high speed services using its Class 395s during the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics under the Olympic Javelin brand.
Southeastern operated numerous commuter services that served South-East and South London as well as Kent, many of which came under the Metro brand. Between March 2009 and May 2012, due to substantial reconstruction work at London Blackfriars as part of the Thameslink Programme, Southeastern services that previously terminated at Blackfriars, mostly from Sevenoaks via the Catford loop, were extended to Kentish Town, St Albans, Luton or Bedford.
During 2016, Transport for London (TfL) proposed to take over several Southeastern-ran commuter services within the city. However, the planned redistribution was not approved by the British government. Despite this decision, in the late 2010s, several services formerly operated by Southeastern were reorganised as Thameslink routes, including services to Sevenoaks and Gillingham.
It was owned by Govia, a joint venture between Go-Ahead Group and Keolis, which also operates the neighbouring Southern franchise that overlapped with Southeastern in some western areas.
During December 2003, the Strategic Rail Authority announced that Danish State Railways/Stagecoach, FirstGroup, Govia and MTR/Sea Containers had been shortlisted to bid for the new Integrated Kent franchise, which would replace the South Eastern franchise and include services on High Speed 1 operating from St Pancras. In November 2005, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced Govia had been awarded the franchise, the services operated by South Eastern Trains were transferred to Southeastern on 1 April 2006.
During November 2007, the second phase of High Speed 1 was opened to traffic, resulting in the freeing up of train paths on the traditional network previously used by Eurostar, which permitted Southeastern to increase certain services two months later. During December 2008, as part of the franchise agreement, responsibility for the Redhill to Tonbridge Line was transferred to Southern.
On 14 December 2009, Southeastern launched full operations of its high-speed services using its newly procured fleet of British Rail Class 395 high speed trains. Seven million journeys were recorded on in the first year of this service's operation.
The introduction of Southeastern's high-speed services was typically regarded as successful, achieving good reliability and passenger satisfaction figures, as well as being credited for an increase in passenger numbers above that already being experienced on the Kent network.
The initial terms of the franchise had included a period of eight years, along with a two-year option dependent on performance targets being met. During March 2011, having fulfilled these performance criteria, it was announced that the DfT had granted Govia a two-year franchise extension until March 2014.
During March 2009, the bay platforms at London Blackfriars were temporarily closed for reconstruction as part of the Thameslink Programme, accordingly, Southeastern services that previously terminated at Blackfriars, mostly from Sevenoaks via the Catford loop, were extended to Kentish Town, St Albans, Luton or Bedford.
When the station fully reopened with new bay platforms in May 2012, these services continued to run, but in the evening and on weekends (when the station had been closed), instead of terminating at Victoria, services terminated at Blackfriars.
Following the DfT review after the cancellation of the InterCity West Coast franchise process in 2012, extensions were granted to the franchises due for renewal in the near future. In 2013, the coalition government opted to extend Southeastern's franchise without competitive tender from March 2014 to June 2018, and in 2016 further extended it until December 2018. The Invitation to Tender was to be released in September 2017 for contract award in August 2018.
Amidst the 2016–18 United Kingdom rail strikes that impacted numerous train operators across the nation, Southeastern cleaning staff, outsourced to employment agency Wettons, voted to stage industrial action in a dispute over pay and working conditions in September 2017.
A strike, which involved Wettons cleaning staff affiliated with the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), took place on 19 October 2017 and lasted for 24 hours. There was no further industrial action, although negotiations between the RMT, Southeastern and Wettons continued for some time.
As part of the 2018 Thameslink Programme, several of the routes formerly operated by Southeastern changed into Thameslink routes, including services to Sevenoaks and Gillingham. These services using the Class 700 now run from Bedford through the London Core via London Bridge and on to the Kent Main Line or the North Kent Line.
Southeastern Development of Future Franchise
During January 2016, Transport for London (TfL) announced its intention to take over the London suburban parts of the franchise from 2018, integrating the routes into a proposed metro network. However, in December 2016, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling rejected this proposed reorganisation, the decision was quickly condemned by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
In June 2017, the DfT announced that four parties, comprising an Abellio/East Japan Railway Company/Mitsui consortium, incumbent Govia, Stagecoach and Trenitalia, had been shortlisted to bid for the next South Eastern franchise.
On 10 August 2017, Trenitalia withdrew its interest in the franchise. During November 2017, the Invitation to Tender for the next franchise was issued. During February 2018, Alstom joined Stagecoach's bid.
The bid evaluation process was protracted, contributing to short term extensions of the franchise to the incumbent operator. The franchise competition was cancelled on 7 August 2019 and the DfT instead took up a further extension and the operator was to run services until 31 March 2020. However, a new contract was then agreed on 30 March 2020, running up to 16 October 2021, with a possible extension to 31 March 2022.
Southeastern Termination of Franchise
During September 2021, the DfT announced it would be terminating Govia's South Eastern franchise after revenue declaration discrepancies involving £25 million of public money were discovered. Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps stated that this was a serious breach of the "good faith" obligation in the franchise agreement.
Following the announcement, shares in Go-Ahead Group (joint owner of Govia) fell 22% and their Chief Financial Officer resigned. During December 2021, Go-Ahead issued an admission of "serious errors and failures", while the trading of its shares on the London Stock Exchange was suspended as the company was unable to publish financial results.
In February 2022, Go-Ahead announced the outcome of investigations into the termination of the franchise, it found that "serious errors had been made” since 2006, with the expected cost to the company to be over £80 million. The amount owed to the DfT was increased to £51.3 million, with errors dating back to the start of the franchise in 2006.
Go-Ahead also stated that they expect to have to pay a fine to the DfT, setting aside up to £30 million for this. Go-Ahead also stated that they may also owe DfT an additional £21.3 million, related to a dispute over profit sharing. In March 2022, the government imposed a £23.5 million penalty in addition to the £64 million that it is seeking to recover from the former operator.
On 17 October 2021, Southeastern (SE Trains Limited) took over the franchise as an operator of last resort.
Southeastern (Train Operating Company 2006–2021) Overview
Southeastern High Speed Map
St Pancras International