On 23 May 2014, my Department announced its intention to award the Thameslink Southern Great Northern (TSGN) franchise to Govia Thameslink Railway Ltd, pending the successful completion of a standstill period. I am happy to confirm to the House that this standstill period has ended and we completed the contract after the markets closed 11 June. This means that Govia can begin the mobilisation process that will mean the new franchise will begin in September this year.
The TSGN franchise is the largest ever let in terms of passenger numbers and Govia will transform services across the south-east of England during the seven-year term of the franchise. A key aspect of the franchise will be delivering this Government’s £6.5 billion Thameslink programme—a major programme of infrastructure work that is helping create 8,000 jobs and will allow 24 trains per hour to travel in each direction from Blackfriars to St Pancras. New tunnels will link Peterborough and Cambridge to the existing Thameslink route, providing easy access across London via St Pancras to Gatwick and Brighton.
Passengers are at the heart of this franchise and will benefit from improved customer service and nearly 1,400 new electric carriages across the network. These include the new class 700 trains secured by the Government as part of the Thameslink programme, but also two new fleets of trains being procured entirely by Govia. These will provide 50% more capacity and 10,000 extra seats every week day into central London during the morning peak by the end of 2018, and delivering quicker, cleaner and more reliable journeys for passengers and businesses.
This franchise shows the benefits that Government working in partnership with the private sector can bring for the railways through franchising. It is a fantastic deal for the rail industry, passengers and taxpayers.