Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern Franchise

Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern Franchise

Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) is a management contract for the provision of passenger services on the Thameslink and Great Northern routes to Bedford, Luton, Peterborough, King's Lynn, Cambridge, London King's Cross, London Moorgate, Sutton, Wimbledon and Brighton, as well as the whole Southern network (including the Gatwick Express)

Plus the jointly operated First Capital Connect Southeastern services (for example the Kentish Town – Sevenoaks via Catford), which were added to the franchise on 25 July 2015, with the Southern and Gatwick Express brands retained.

The TSGN franchise is operated by Govia Thameslink Railway, owned by Govia, and is the largest railway franchise in the United Kingdom.

Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern Franchise History

The Department for Transport decided to create a new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise with the services jointly operated with Southeastern to be added in December 2014 and the entire South Central franchise in July 2015.

In March 2012 the Department for Transport announced Abellio, FirstGroup, Govia, MTR and Stagecoach had been shortlisted.

The Invitation to Tender was to have been issued in October 2012, with the successful bidder announced 4–6 months later. However, in the wake of the InterCity West Coast refranchising process collapsing, the government announced in October 2012 that the process would be put on hold pending the results of a review.

In January 2013 the government announced it would be exercising an option to extend the existing contract until March 2014.

Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern Franchise 2015–2021 Franchise

In March 2013 the Secretary of State for Transport announced the franchise would again be extended until 13 September 2014, and that the future franchise would be a management style contract due to the level of investment and change on the route. In September 2013 a revised invitation to tender was issued. In May 2014, Govia was awarded the new franchise.

The former First Capital Connect parts of the franchise have been re-branded as Thameslink and Great Northern operated by the newly formed Govia Thameslink Railway, while the existing Southern and Gatwick Express brands have been retained.

The franchise is unusual as a management contract where fare income does not go to GTR, which is simply paid a fee for operating the service, so GTR carries less revenue risk. This form of franchise was chosen because of long-term engineering works anticipated around London, which would be a significant challenge to organise within the normal form of franchise.

From July 2015 when Govia Thameslink took over the Southern services to March 2017, 7,7% of planned services have been cancelled or delayed by more than 30 minutes. The most important reason for the delays and cancellations were industry actions (38% of the total).

13% were caused by failures of track and Network Rail assets such as signalling systems. As the Department for Transport in the period from September 2014 to August 2017 has received £3.6 billion in fare revenue and had to pay only £2.8 billion in franchise payments to Govia, it made a profit for the taxpayer of £760 million.

In 2017, the Government confirmed it was considering the size of the franchise at its next renewal, indicating it could be broken up.

In May 2018, following the announcement of the renationalisation of InterCity East Coast franchise as London North Eastern Railway, Grayling revealed despite not reaching a decision on the future of Great Northern services beyond 2021 it had been proposed that Great Northern services could be merged with the London North Eastern Railway or transferred to London Overground.

In March 2022, GTR was given a direct award contract by DfT, replacing its franchise agreement, expiring on 1 April 2028.

Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern Franchise Overview

Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern Franchise Current Operator:
Govia Thameslink Railway

Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern Franchise Main Route(s):
Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express

Dates of Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern Franchise Operation:
14 September 2014 – 1 April 2028

Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern Franchise Technical Track Gauge:
1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge

Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern Franchise Electrification:
25 kV 50 Hz AC OHLE
750 V DC third rail


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