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Train services serving Brighton and Hove

Volume 570: debated on Monday 4 November 2013

The Petition of rail users and passengers from Brighton and Hove,

Declares that they are concerned at the extremely high cost of tickets for train services provided by Southern and First Capital Connect, which are often overcrowded and unreliable.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Department of Transport to take the necessary steps to ensure rail fares are significantly reduced; to introduce minimum standards for on-train facilities; and to deliver a railway run to a high standard, designed as a public service rather than one primarily run to generate a profit.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Caroline Lucas, Official Report, 14 October 2013; Vol. 568, c. 568.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Transport:

In October 2013 I published the Government’s “Rail Fares and Ticketing: Next Steps” document (found on our website at: This included a key step the Government have taken to help passengers by capping the upper limit of any individual fare rise at 2% above the permitted average inflation plus 1% for all regulated fares.

The two franchises referred to in this petition Southern and First Capital Connect are the subject of a live franchise competition: the Thameslink Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise. The specification for this competition has been issued to bidders and published on the DFT website at: /thameslink-southern-and-great-northern-2013-invitation-to-tender this sets out the Government’s intentions for services on the new combined franchise.

The stakeholder briefing document for this franchise (found on our website at: /uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/245205/consultation-responses-tsgn.pdf) will also be helpful in discerning the Government’s plans for this franchise and how stakeholder views have been taken into account in their specification.

As I set out when I announced the new rail franchising programme in March 2013, we are seeking franchisees that put the passenger at the heart of their operations and this is reflected in the consideration of non-financial factors in the evaluation of bids for the TSGN competition.

The TSGN franchisee will be the delivery partner with the Department, Network Rail and other industry partners implementing the £6 billion Thameslink Programme which will transform the frequency and quality of cross-London rail services that operate through the Thameslink core between Blackfriars and St Pancras International stations. This programme encompasses significant investment in infrastructure and the introduction of 1140 new rolling stock vehicles. This will enable 24 trains per hour to use the route through central London with 12 car trains, providing more capacity and enabling services from the East Coast Main Line to use the route and opening up further opportunities for links across London from Sussex.