Published 29th November 1999 feedback | help  
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Connex South Central

 Connex South Central 1996/7     1997/8     1998/9    
 Train miles (millions) 14     15.3     17.4    
 Passenger miles (millions) 1,300     1,374.4     1,435    
 Passenger journeys (millions) 86     93     98.3    
 Route miles operated 444     444     444    
Source: OPRAF

Paying for success

Connex South Central's passengers may be asking themselves how much they are prepared to pay for services which run on time. A fare increase of up to 1.3% was given the go-ahead in October this year following the company's improved performance records.

The improvement in the punctuality and reliability of some of its services was set out in Opraf figures. But CRUCC statistics which give a much more realistic view of performance are not so generous. The number of trains cancelled in the year ending March 1999 did fall by almost 30% compared to the previous year, but delays increases by a quarter to over 53,000 trains.

Although Connex South Central's franchise agreement was not up for renewal until 2003, the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority has opened the bidding for the franchise already in the hope of attracting greater investment. The company is bidding to retain its franchise.

Franchise commitments

Connex South Central operates mainly commuter services to London from Surrey and Sussex, as well as services to Gatwick, Brighton and Bournemouth.

It has made a significant number of franchise commitments including:

  • spending an additional 2.5m on station improvements,
  • refurbishing class 319 rolling stock to run a better London to Brighton service,
  • improving Passenger's Charter punctuality standards on some routes.
Other innovations not in the franchise plan:
  • reinstatement of Sunday services between Victoria and London Bridge,
  • new direct services from Gatwick Airport to Rugby,
  • improved station security including CCTV at Epsom, Penge West, Anerley and Sydenham and a "zero tolerance" drive at Bexhill-on-Sea,
  • modified rolling stock on coastal lines.
Profitability

Connex South Central has reported two successive operating losses; 10m in the nine months ending 4/1/97 and 4.6m in the year ending 3/1/98. Some estimates suggest the company will report an operating profit in the years leading up to the end of its franchise in 2003/04 based on recent increases in passenger miles and journeys, up 10% and 14% respectively between 1996/97 and 1998/99.

In the meantime, Connex South Central will continue to receive Opraf grants falling from over 49m in 1999/2000 to 5.6m in 2003/04.

Journey demand forecasts | Operating profit forecasts