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Sunday, 26 August, 2001, 02:10 GMT 03:10 UK
Connex loses rail franchise
Connex train
Connex is the first operator to lose its franchise since privatisation
Rail passengers travelling between London, Sussex and Surrey will have a new service provider from Sunday when Govia takes over from troubled Connex.

The rail franchise for the south central network is due to change hands after Connex lost its right to run the service.

The French-owned company was condemned following repeated complaints of late, dirty and overcrowded trains, and the franchise was withdrawn four years into a seven-year contract.

New owners Govia are promising better services as part of a 1.5bn investment programme.

The most important focus for south central will be the improvement of its performance

David Franks, Govia
Connex is the first operator to lose its franchise since privatisation.

The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) called for new bidders to apply for the contract following Connex's punctuality problems.

The promise of huge investment in the ailing network convinced the government's Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) to award the contract to rival operator Govia.

That company's managing director, David Franks, who has joined the company from First North Western and is credited with turning that franchise into a successful operation, said management were committed to investing.

Major job ahead

He said: "In the short term we will concentrate on recruiting additional front line staff and drivers and we intend to provide better support and training for all.

"There are nearly 3,000 staff working on South Central so this is a big job in itself."

He added: "We seek to improve the cleanliness of the existing trains and stations prior to their replacement or upgrade.

"However the most important focus for South Central will be the improvement of its performance."

The company is investing 900 million in new trains and delivery is likely to start soon.

Millions earmarked

It is anticipated the first of the new green and white liveried trains could be seen entering service early in 2002.

More than 500 million is earmarked for infrastructure and station improvements and the franchise will include four-yearly reviews to give the programme more flexibility.

The BBC's Quentin Somerville
"Connex is the first to loose it's franchise"
See also:

24 Oct 00 | UK
Connex travellers' woes
24 Oct 00 | UK
Connex loses rail franchise
24 Oct 00 | UK
Connex's colourful years
13 Jul 00 | UK
More trains running late
24 Aug 00 | Business
Battle for train operator escalates
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