Page last updated at 08:28 GMT, Wednesday, 20 August 2008 09:28 UK

Rail franchise runners announced

Southern Train
The new franchise will include services currently run by Southern

The four companies in the race to run rail services in the South East have been announced.

The Department for Transport said National Express, Stagecoach, Govia and NedRailways would contest the new South Central franchise.

The eventual winner of the deal will run trains in south London, parts of Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire.

Rail minister Tom Harris promised less crowding on the franchise which is due to start in the summer of 2009.

'Important franchise'

Mr Harris said: "We look forward to seeing strong bids from each of the competitors for this important franchise.

"We want passengers across the franchise area to see improvements - longer trains, safer stations and later running services."

The franchise will consist of services currently run by Southern and will include the Gatwick Express.

It will also take in the Tonbridge to Redhill route now run by Southeastern.

Smartcards, including Oyster cards, will be used across the franchise area.

Major improvements such as the extended East London Line and the 5.5 billion Thameslink upgrades will also have to be supported by the successful bidder.

National Express currently runs the East Coast and East Anglia rail franchises and Stagecoach runs East Midlands and South West routes.

Dutch firm NedRailways runs MerseyRail and Northern services jointly with Serco, while Govia runs Southeastern and London Midland trains alongside the Southern franchise.

The invitation to tender will be issued in autumn 2008, with the successful bidder expected to be announced in the summer 2009.


SEE ALSO
Promises for new rail franchise
22 May 08 |  England
Commuters face train fare rises
28 Nov 07 |  England

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