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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 July, 2005, 12:06 GMT 13:06 UK
Rail firms submit franchise bid
A South Eastern train
South Eastern Trains has been running the service since 2003
The firm which runs the Hong Kong Metro and a UK train company have submitted a bid to take over the rail franchise for the south east of England.

GNER, which runs the East Coast Main Line franchise, and Hong Kong firm MTR have joined forces under the name Great South Eastern Railway (GSER).

Trains in the South East have been run by South Eastern Trains since Connex was stripped of its franchise in 2003.

GSER formally submitted its bid to take over the region's services on Saturday.

MTR and GNER first announced their interest in taking over the franchise last year and are expected to compete against three other bidders - Danish State Railways, FirstGroup and a consortium of Go-Ahead Group and Keolis.

'Sense of pride'

The franchise covers trains throughout Kent, parts of Sussex and Surrey and into London from those counties.

The successful company is also set to run high speed services on the new Channel Tunnel Rail Link from 2008 or 2009.

Map of South East franchise area
The franchise area covers Kent and parts of Sussex and London
The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) stripped French-owned Connex of its franchise in June 2003, stating poor financial management as the reason.

It was replaced five months later by South Eastern Trains, a subsidiary of the SRA.

The Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) has said it would like the area's trains kept under public sector control, arguing reliability has improved.

GNER's chief executive Christopher Garnett said: "We want to create a strong sense of pride and community involvement on this important part of the rail network - 'a railway for everyone, every day'.

"We plan to transform commuters' journey experience and raise their expectations by delivering a reliable, clean, efficient railway with a smile on its face.

"We will build on the progress made by the people at South Eastern Trains over the past two years."

RMT complains over rail franchise
29 Jun 05 |  Southern Counties
Inquiry into lost rail franchise
07 Feb 05 |  England

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