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2008-05-22 DfT-001
Department for Transport

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More capacity and better services for passengers on South Central franchise


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Department for Transport

More capacity and better services for passengers on South Central franchise
_______________________________________________________________


date
22 May 2008 11:09
source Department for Transport
type Press release

note DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT News Release (078) issued by The Government News Network on 22 May 2008


Rail passengers in the South London, Surrey and Sussex are set to benefit from 10% more capacity across the South Central franchise area and significant service improvements under proposals outlined by Rail Minister Tom Harris MP today.

The proposals are part of the consultation document that details the services that the future operator of the South Central franchise will run. The South Central franchise will comprise services currently run by Southern and will include Gatwick Express services and the Redhill - Tonbridge route currently operated by Southeastern.

It outlines extra capacity, smartcards rolled out throughout the franchise area, safer stations and better environmental performance of the franchise. Views are also being sought on whether fares and performance could be linked.

It also states that the winner of the franchise must help facilitate important projects like the East London Line Extension and the £5.5bn Thameslink Programme, both of which will provide a significant increase in capacity in and through London.

Proposals include:

* Around 25% more capacity on most routes in South London where trains will be extended from 8 - 10 carriages,

* More than 3,700 additional seats in and out of London at the busiest times because of retained doubling of peak time express trains between Brighton and London Victoria in the high peak. Two extra trains between Redhill and London at peak times will also be retained. These services will start later this year

* Later services - Last services from Central London to places such as Sutton, Tulse Hill and Crystal Palace at around 0030 compared to 2330 or midnight today. Later services will also operate on the Uckfield route

* Smartcards across the franchise area, including provision for Oyster Pay as You Go Commuter

* Fares - regulated fare increases capped at RPI+1%. Views are being sought on how fares could made simpler, as well as how they could be linked to performance

* Safer stations - including extended hours of staffing, gating of around 30 stations and enhanced CCTV across the franchise

* A new Sunday service between Brighton and Southampton

* Better facilities for travel to stations - Around 1,000 more car parking and around 1,000 cycle parking spaces

* Greener travel - a 10% reduction in non-traction electricity supply and better environmental performance

Rail Minister Tom Harris said;

"Passengers are central to our proposals. That is why we are proposing 10% extra capacity across the South Central routes, better evening and weekend services and more people will be able to use smartcards.

"Additional stations will be staffed late at night and there will be around 1,000 extra car parking and cycle spaces. I expect the winner of this competition to tackle delays and cancellations as well as help deliver major projects in London that will benefit passengers for years to come."

Notes to Editors

1. Expressions of Interest are being invited today. The Invitation to Tender will be issued in autumn 2008 and the successful bidder is expected to be announced in early summer 2009. The new franchise will commence on 20th September 2009. Accreditation documentation is available on the DfT website at http://www.dft.gov.uk

2. Consultation responses are invited from 22 May 2008. The consultation closes on 14th August 2008 and is available on the DfT website.

3. The franchise will run for 5 years and 10 months, with the final year dependent on performance. An extension of up to 2 years is available at the Departments discretion.

4. No changes in fare regulation are proposed. The current policy of RPI +1% will continue throughout the life of the franchise. Operators will be free to set unregulated fares. Respondents are asked for views on ways in which fares in the franchise could be made more transparent and easier to understand as well as views on whether fares and performance could be linked

5. There will be at least a 10% increase in capacity across the franchise area as a result of train lengthening on South London routes, the introduction of around 106 extra carriages across the franchise area and the extra services that will be introduced following changes to the Gatwick Express franchise this summer. This does not include the capacity increase that will be provided by the Thameslink Programme or the East London Line extension.

6. It was announced in 2007 that the Gatwick Express will be retained as a non-stop service between Gatwick Airport and London every 15 minutes and at the busiest times of day the service will also run beyond Gatwick to Brighton, doubling the number of express trains between Brighton and London Victoria in the high peak. At least two extra trains will also run between Redhill and London in the peak as well as additional Redhill to London services off-peak. These service changes will start in December 2008.

7. The franchise will need to accommodate major timetable changes to facilitate delivery of key infrastructure projects notably the East London Line extension to Crystal Palace and West Croydon and major works at London Bridge to facilitate delivery of Thameslink. Some disruption to services as a result of these projects is inevitable but bidders will be asked to detail how they will keep passengers informed and provide high quality replacement services to mitigate these impacts.

8. The provision of additional, later evening and Sunday services are subject to agreement with Network Rail

Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk


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