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South Eastern (Southeastern)

What is happening now?

On 29 November 2017 the Department for Transport (DfT) published the Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the bidders for the franchise. It also provided a stakeholder briefing document setting out how the Government has addressed the issues raised by respondents to the Southeastern consultation in the specification for the next franchise.

The stakeholder briefing document can be found here.

The three bidders submitted their proposals in March 2018 and these are currently being evaluated by the DfT. There has been a short extension to the current franchise agreement, which means Govia will continue to run the services until at least 10th November 2019, with a possible extension until April 2020.


A shortlist of three bidders are in competition to run the new South Eastern franchise, which is due to start in 2019. They are:

• Abellio (joint venture between Abellio and the consortium of East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui)
• Govia
• Stagecoach.

A fourth shortlisted bidder, Trenitalia, earlier withdrew from the process.

The South Eastern franchise network is one of the largest and busiest in the country. Passengers on this network have told us they want a more punctual and reliable service with more space to sit and stand. They want to be treated well when things go wrong. Transport Focus has been working with the bidders and the Government to keep passengers’ expectations firmly at the centre of the new plans.

We responded to the DfT’s consultation on the next franchise. Our response is based on our insight into what passengers want, including our focus group research into the experiences and aspirations of current Southeastern passengers, which we published in April. The key priorities for improvement are:

• punctuality and reliability
• minimise and effectively manage disruptions
• capacity
• information
• value for money.

As part of the consultation process, we presented our insight into Southeastern passengers’ experiences and aspirations for new franchise at a number of public events. We welcomed the extension of the consultation period to allow those events that were cancelled due to the general election to happen. The consultation document can be found here.

Once the bids are submitted, we expect to have a role reviewing the customer experience elements of each bid, and providing a specialist report to the DfT’s bid evaluators on how well we feel each bid meets the requirements set out in the ITT.

Southeastern, the existing operator, will continue to run services until the start of a new franchise.

Transport Focus reports and publications

Our National Rail Passenger Survey gives a twice-yearly perspective on passenger satisfaction across the network. Further reports and publications can be found below:

June 2017 South Eastern rail franchise consultation response
April 2017 South Eastern rail franchise: what passengers want
October 2013 Southeastern Direct Award – Passenger Focus submission to the Department for Transport


Click here for key Department for Transport publications

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