Southern (GTR) - A
Southern (GTR) - A
Southern (Govia Thameslink Railway)
Southern is the brand name used by the Govia Thameslink Railway train operating company on the Southern routes of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise in England.
It is a subsidiary of Govia, a joint venture between transport groups Go-Ahead and Keolis, and has operated the South Central franchise since August 2001 and the Gatwick Express service since June 2008. When the passenger rail franchise was subsumed into GTR, Southern was split from Gatwick Express and the two became separate brands, alongside the Thameslink and Great Northern brands.
Southern operates the majority of commuter services from its Central London terminals at London Bridge and London Victoria to South London, East and West Sussex, as well as regional services in parts of Hampshire, Kent and Surrey. It also provides services between Watford Junction and Croydon via the West London Line.
Major destinations served include Beckenham Junction, Bexhill, Bognor Regis, Brighton, Caterham, Chichester, Crawley, Eastbourne, East Croydon, East Grinstead, Epsom, Epsom Downs, Gatwick Airport, Horsham, Mitcham Junction, Leatherhead, Littlehampton, Portsmouth Harbour, Redhill, Southampton Central, Sutton (London), Tattenham Corner, Uckfield and Worthing. The company also operates services from Eastbourne to Ashford, Brighton to Ore, Brighton to Seaford, Brighton to Southampton and Clapham Junction to Watford Junction.
For three consecutive years from 2016 to 2018, Southern came last on passenger satisfaction in surveys conducted by the consumer group Which?, scoring low for value for money, reliability, and punctuality in 2018. In 2022 Southern was ranked second-worst on overall passenger satisfaction in a survey conducted by Transport Focus.
Southern (GTR) History
Following the end of British Rail, Connex South Central was awarded the Network SouthCentral franchise by the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising. Operations began on 26 May 1996.
In March 2000, the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority (SSRA) announced its intention to relet the franchise from May 2003 with Connex and Govia the shortlisted bidders. In October 2000 the SSRA announced that Govia had been awarded the franchise and would operate it from May 2003.
Govia negotiated a deal with Connex to buy out the remainder of its franchise, this was completed in August 2001. Govia trading as SouthCentral took over operations on 26 August 2001. The franchise was originally to run for twenty years, but in 2002 the Strategic Rail Authority changed the way it handled financing agreements and therefore Govia was re-awarded with a seven-and-a-half-year franchise until December 2009.
In May 2003 the franchise was rebranded as Southern in a recall of the pre-nationalisation Southern Railway, using a green roundel logo with Southern in yellow in a green bar.
In April 2007 the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that the Gatwick Express franchise was to be incorporated into the main South Central franchise. This was part of a plan to increase capacity on the Brighton Main Line, involving the extension of peak-hour services from Gatwick to Brighton and Eastbourne from December 2008. This doubled the number of London to Brighton express trains during those periods.
In December 2008, Southern took over the services on the Redhill to Tonbridge Line from Southeastern.
The South Central franchise end date was brought forward to September 2009 upon the integration of the Gatwick Express service, to allow the new operator to be in place during major changes to the timetable in and around South London in December 2009.
In the run-up to the bidding process for the franchise, reports emerged suggesting that Transport for London, the operator of the London Overground service, wished to take control of all overground services in South London, including the 'Metro' area of the South Central franchise. However, such a transfer never took place and the DfT put out the entire franchise for tender.
In August 2008 the DfT shortlisted Govia, National Express, NedRail and Stagecoach for the new South Central franchise. In June 2009 the DfT announced that Govia had retained the franchise, to start on 20 September 2009.
In March 2012 the Department for Transport announced that Abellio, FirstGroup, Govia, MTR and Stagecoach had been shortlisted for the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise. The Invitation to Tender was to be issued in October 2012, with the successful bidder announced in spring 2013. However, in the wake of the collapse of the InterCity West Coast refranchising process, the government announced in October 2012 that the process would be put on hold pending the results of a review.
In December 2012, Southern's London Victoria to London Bridge via Denmark Hill service ceased, being partially replaced by London Overground's new Clapham Junction to Dalston Junction service.
At the conclusion of the Southern franchise in July 2015, the South Central franchise was merged into the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise, which is run as a management contract rather than a traditional franchise. However the Southern brand was retained.
Southern (GTR) 2007 and 2008 Timetables
Southern was criticised for major changes to its timetables in December 2007 and December 2008.
In December 2007, Southern changed the arrangement for the splitting of services to and from London Victoria on the Arun Valley Line, opting to split trains at Horsham rather than Barnham, as well as run the portion to Portsmouth or Southampton non-stop to Barnham.
Some passengers criticised this change as it increased the journey time to and from London by up to 10 minutes from certain stations, while in the event of services running behind schedule, trains were sometimes not split at Horsham, and proceeded non-stop to Barnham, leaving Arun Valley commuters at Horsham with the prospect of no onward trains.
In December 2008 further timetable changes included the introduction of the extended Gatwick Express services. However, reliability and timekeeping on some of the new services were considered poor, leading to several public meetings being held.
On 22 January 2009, Southern responded to some of these criticisms. During 2009 these services have recorded improved timekeeping and criticisms have since subsided.
The new timetable also led to unhappiness due to the difference in speed and frequency of service between East Coastway services and those on the Brighton Main Line.
Southern (GTR) December 2010 Timetable
Further changes to the timetable were made in December 2010, the first timetable change to include many of the requirements of the new franchise. Additional services were included at evenings and weekends.
In the London area a 'metro' frequency of service was introduced on most routes with the extension of the weekday daytime four-trains-per-hour norm to late evenings (up to around midnight), Saturdays and Sundays. In addition, new late-night services were introduced from London on Friday and Saturday nights with last trains leaving central London at around 00:30.
Outside London, a new later-evening service was introduced to Uckfield from London Bridge, new late-night services from Brighton along the West Coastway line and direct services between Southampton and Brighton on Sundays.
Southern (Govia Thameslink Railway) Overview
Southern (GTR) Franchise(s):
26 August 2001 – 24 May 2003
25 May 2003 – 19 September 2009
22 June 2008 – 19 September 2009
South Central (incl Gatwick Express)
20 September 2009 – 25 July 2015
Part of Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern
26 July 2015 – 1 April 2028
Southern (GTR) Main Region(s): Greater London, South East England
Southern (GTR) Other Region(s): East of England
Southern (GTR) Fleet Size:
17 Class 171 Turbostar sets
214 Class 377 Electrostar sets
4 Class 387 Electrostar sets
Southern (GTR) Stations Called At: 213
Southern (GTR) Stations Operated: 156
Southern (GTR) Parent Company: Govia Thameslink Railway
Southern (GTR) Reporting Mark: SN
Southern (GTR) Technical Track Gauge: 1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge
Southern (GTR) Electrification: 750 V DC third rail
25 kV 50 Hz AC OHLE
Southern (GTR) Length: 666.3 km (414.0 mi)