Newcastle-based transport group Go-Ahead has won a multi-million pound rail franchise.
In a consortium with French firm Keolis - a joint venture called Govia - has been awarded the the Thameslink Southern and Great Northern contract by the Department for Transport and will begin to operate services from September this year.
The current operators, First Capital Connect, carry 273m passenger journeys per year, employ around 6,500 people and generate annual passenger revenues of £1.3bn.
Over the course of Govia’s franchise term the route will see £50m investment in the 239 stations across the infrastructure - and some 10,000 additional seats will be created into London at peak times.
The joint venture, which is split 65% Go-Ahead, 35% Keolis, expect to generate revenue of around £350m from franchise payments.
David Brown, group chief executive of The Go-Ahead Group said: “I’m delighted the DfT has chosen us to operate this important and complex franchise and to play an instrumental role in delivering the benefits of the Government’s £6bn Thameslink Programme.
“This will be the UK’s busiest franchise and we will be introducing 50% more capacity into central London during peak times, with 26 per cent more morning peak carriages providing 10,000 additional seats.
“This award is testimony to the experience of our people of working in partnership with the DfT, Network Rail and other industry stakeholders and in delivering major integration projects and change programmes.
“Our bid for the franchise was focused on improving customers’ experience and includes two new train fleets for Gatwick Express and Moorgate services, in addition to overseeing the introduction of the Thameslink trains already ordered, as well as delivering improvements at stations.
“I’m looking forward to working with existing colleagues and welcoming new staff and together delivering this transformational franchise.”
Alistair Gordon, chief executive of Keolis UK, added: “We are pleased that the strengths of the Govia partnership have been recognised today in the awarding of this important franchise and look forward to delivering its challenging requirements.”