Four companies shortlisted to run the South Eastern franchise

With Southeastern’s franchise coming to an end in December 2018, one of the key milestones in deciding a new franchisee is the bidding process. The shortlisting has now been completed so we know who the runners and riders are for the franchise.

We at TLC, are pleased that there are 4 bidders. We feel this reflects both the importance and potential for rail services in this area. We hope that this thorough and competitive process results in a financially stable train operating company that has the competency and capability to improve our services and fulfil the potential of the network.

The 4 providers are:

  • South Eastern Holdings Ltd – a consortium featuring Abellio Transport Group Ltd (the Dutch national operator), East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co. (two Japanese companies)
  • London and South East Passenger Rail Services Ltd – a consortium “Govia Ltd” which is the current operator
  • Stagecoach South Eastern Trains Ltd – a part of Stagecoach Group plc
  • Trenitalia UK Ltd – which is the UK arm of the Italian national railway company

What experience do these companies have of running a railway? South Eastern Holdings Ltd is the Dutch national train company has significant experience of running a railway and East Japan Railway Company is one of Japan’s 7 leading railway companies. Mitsui & Co appear to be a conglomerate involved in a number of areas. It is not immediately clear what their rail experience is (They appear to have purchased a rail subsidiary in Brazil in 2014). Meanwhile, London and South East Passenger Rail Services Ltd is the firm as Southeastern and so they certainly have experience of running a railway. Stagecoach operates the existing South West Franchise (until 20 August 2017) and the East Midlands Trains operation. They also own 49% of Virgin Rail. Finally, Trenitalia as the Italian national railway company have extensive experience of running railways.

Who does TLC want to see win the franchise?

TLC is fiercely neutral when it comes to politics or decisions like this. We enjoy good relations with the current operator and would hope to foster good relations with the winner of this franchise exercise. We will always strive for improvements to the customer experience for our members. Issues such as overcrowding, punctuality and value for money are everlasting ambitions of ours and so these will be the yardsticks by which we hold the operator to account on. Our success, depends primarily on the numbers we bring to the table. The more members we have, the louder the voice and the more power we have for negotiating. We’re one of the largest rail user groups in the county but would encourage new members. Membership costs £4 a year and by joining you give us both your numerical support and also the financing to run our campaigns.

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