What is happening now?
The Department for Transport has negotiated a new short-term franchise (known as a direct award) with Southeastern, the existing operator of the route. This will run until the start of a new franchise in June 2018.
The timetable for the award of the new franchise will start when the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) notice is published in November 2016. This will be followed by consultation, invitations to prospective bidders to complete a pre-qualification questionnaire, leading to a list of shortlisted bidders, before the Invitation to Tender (ITT) is issued in April 2017. The announcement of the award of the new franchise is expected in February 2018.
In December 2014 some Southeastern services transferred to Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).
Our role in the franchising process
We pressed for passenger benefits from the direct award in our discussions with the Department for Transport (DfT) and Southeastern. We also made a formal submission on the issues we believe the direct award should address.
The present franchise was due to be re-let in 2013, but this process was suspended. In 2012, in preparation for the anticipated competition, we carried out route-specific research to understand passenger expectations from the franchise. We presented our findings to DfT and also made a response to its franchise consultation.
We presented the findings of our route research and analysis of our National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) data at consultation meetings arranged by the DfT in summer 2012. This research showed passenger satisfaction ratings and the issues that passengers told us were important to them. Nearer the time of the next franchise competition we will consider what research and information we will require to help us understand passenger needs and represent them in our input to the process.
To view our National Rail Passenger Survey reports or to access these and our appeal complaints data through our Data Explorer tool, please click on the links below:
Transport Focus reports and publications