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Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (Govia Thameslink Railway)

Caledonion Sleeper

What is happening now?

In May 2014 it was announced that the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise would be awarded to Govia. The new franchise is called Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).


A previous competition was underway in 2012 but was suspended and restarted in 2013 following the Brown review. First Capital Connect (FCC) had an interim direct award to run services from April 2014 until the new franchise starts.

Services previously operated by FCC transferred to GTR in September 2014 and are branded as Thameslink or Great Northern. Some services also transferred from Southeastern in December 2014.

The  Southern franchise, including Gatwick Express services, ended in July 2015 and became part of the GTR, although the names of the operating brands remain.

Our role in the franchising process

Transport Focus has maintained a dialogue with the Department for Transport (DfT) throughout all the stages of this franchise replacement process. Route-specific research was carried out in 2012. This, alongside more recent National Rail Passenger Survey (NRPS) data, was used as a basis for discussions in 2013, providing evidence of passenger aspirations and views.

We held detailed discussions with the DfT and their advisors about the service quality regime for the next franchise. We are pleased that challenging NRPS targets for passenger satisfaction have been contracted in the agreement with GTR. Having held discussions with all the shortlisted bidders during their bid development, we continued working with GTR on their policies and plans as they mobilised for the franchise.

We provided advice to the DfT on the bidders’ delivery plans for the Customer Experience element of the tenders during the bid evaluation stage. In the run up to the suspended competition we responded to the original consultation and also presented our research findings at consultation meetings arranged by the DfT in summer 2012.

We were pleased to see the introduction of new trains on the Gatwick Express and Great Northern Moorgate services, as well as the boost in capacity from the new trains currently being built for the Thameslink routes through London. Passengers will want to understand how the new operator will run a more punctual railway than they currently experience, punctuality being a high passenger priority for improvement.

As part of the newly awarded franchise GTR are required to publish a Customer Report setting out the promises it has made for the franchise. In Autumn 2014 we carried out research to obtain passenger feedback on these reports and understand how well they meet their expectations. You can read a summary of the findings and see a copy of the GTR Customer Report and research presentation.

Our ongoing work

Now the new franchise is in operation we continue to use our rail research to ensure that it has passenger priorities at its heart. Key to this are the National Rail Passenger Survey results that are presented and discussed with GTR, highlighting areas that need improvement. We also hold meetings to discuss performance, both on a regular and proactive basis and to react to any poor performance.

We continue our statutory role in helping passengers with their unresolved rail complaints. Where a passenger has been unable to resolve their complaint directly with GTR we work with them to achieve a better outcome for the passenger. We use the information from these ‘appeal’ complaints to help GTR understand the root causes of unresolved complaints and continuously improve the customer service they provide.

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:

NRPS                                                                  Data Explorer

Transport Focus reports and publications

March 2015 What passengers want from Customer Reports – summary report
March 2015 Govia Thameslink Railway Customer Report and research presentation
May 2014 TSGN franchise award – our response to the announcement
September 2012 Passenger Focus response to the TSGN franchise consultation
September 2012 TSGN passenger research – summary report
May 2012 TSGN passenger research – Excel summary
May 2012 TSGN passenger research – stated preference report
May 2012 TSGN and South Eastern franchise – an initial submission from Passenger Focus 

 Click here for key Department for Transport publications

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