Train operating company Southeastern, which is 65% owned by the Newcastle-headquartered Go-Ahead group, will continue to run the South Eastern franchise until June 2018, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced.
A ‘Direct Award’ contract has been agreed which will see a host of schemes rolled out over the next three and a half years to improve train services and the passenger experience.
Up to 75 more staff will be hired and deployed to gatelines at key stations, while 170 customer service staff will be taken on.
New special ticket offers will also be introduced and £4.8m will be spent on station improvements.
The new franchise runs from October 12, 2014, to June 24, 2018.
David Brown, Go-Ahead chief executive said: “We’re pleased that the government has put its confidence in Southeastern to deliver further enhancements for passengers. The plans to be delivered offer benefits for passengers, taxpayers and the communities that we serve.
“Today’s announcement is an endorsement of our record of delivering improving train services, record investment in the route network, better customer service and strong passenger growth over the last eight years. In that time our stations have seen over £100 million worth of improvements, making them more accessible, safer and easier to use, and we’ve delivered the UK’s first ever domestic Highspeed service and expanded its reach to include more stations in Kent.
“There’s no doubt that the next three years will be a challenging period, with the major service changes required to accommodate the redevelopment work at London Bridge. This work is vital to enhance connections across London and is part of the £6.5 billion government-sponsored Thameslink Programme. The changes to the 2015 timetable will help customers make the journeys they need to throughout the duration of these works.
“The schemes announced today have been agreed by government and our key objectives are to continue to deliver improvements for passengers, assist commuters through the period of change that the Thameslink Programme presents over the coming three years, and continue to attract and encourage new customers to use our services.”