Go-Ahead's Govia to face off against Stagecoach in shortlisted picks for Southeastern franchise

Rebecca Smith
Govia is the parent firm of Southern rail which has faced long-running disruption from industrial action
Govia is the parent firm of Southern rail which has faced long-running disruption from industrial action (Source: Getty)

A company owned by the parent group of strike-addled train operator Southern has been shortlisted to take on the new Southeastern franchise.

Govia, Go-Ahead Group's joint venture with French transport group Keolis, will compete against a joint venture owned by Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co, a bid by Stagecoach, and another by Trenitalia. The firms vying for the franchise were announced by the Department for Transport (DfT) today.

Go-Ahead Group, the majority owner of Southern's parent company, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), said today passenger revenue and journeys had dropped four per cent. A row between Southern and unions over the role of its guards has caused significant disruption for passengers.

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In its trading update today, Go-Ahead said the situation had improved over the past five months thanks to a dearth in industrial action, while service and performance levels have stabilised. "[This has allowed] the company to deliver more reliable services to customers," it said.

However, it acknowledged plans by train drivers' union Aslef for an overtime ban by Southern drivers, saying it will result in "unnecessary disruption for customers". It added that GTR remains "fully committed to resolving these issues".

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Overall, Go-Ahead said expectations for the full year remained unchanged, with the group in "a strong financial position". It reports full-year results at the beginning of September.

It said passenger growth on Southeastern had continued to slow, putting pressure on passenger revenue, although that had been offset by a cost efficiency programme.

Since it took over the franchise, passenger numbers have grown 40 per cent, with 500 new weekday services.

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