With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) affecting everything, and train operators running under an emergency measures agreement for at least the next six months, the Department for Transport is understandably not prepared to make major short-term changes to the way that trains are run.
So, it’s no real surprise that the DfT has reached a direct award agreement with Govia (a subsidiary of the Go Ahead Group (65%) and Keolis (35%)) to continue operating the Southeastern franchise.
The new contract commences on 1 April 2020 and will run until 16 October 2021, with the option to extend at the DfT’s discretion until 31 March 2022.
Southeastern said that it will continue its immediate focus on providing services for key workers in this time of national crisis. Looking further ahead, during the course of the contract term, Southeastern will deliver a range of customer experience improvements, including exploring options to boost capacity in the short-term as additional rolling stock becomes available, and continued partnership with Network Rail to develop a longer-term capacity, rolling stock and punctuality strategy for the Southeastern network beyond 2022.
The new arrangement is a management contract, reflecting the DfT’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, announced on 23 March 2020, removing exposure to changes in passenger demand and costs.
Southeastern managing director David Statham said: “We continue to work with our industry partners to ensure that services are available to get people working in healthcare, food and other vital public services where they need to be.
“When customers are able to begin travelling as normal, we look forward to reconnecting our communities and further improving capacity, performance and customer satisfaction.”