South Eastern franchise

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South Eastern
Southeastern 375306 at Strood in June 2015
Current operatorSoutheastern
Main Region(s)London
Stations called at179
Stations operated174
Dates of operationConnex South Eastern: 13 Oct 1996 - 8 Nov 2003
South Eastern Trains: 9 Nov 2003 - 31 Mar 2006
Southeastern: 1 Apr 2006 - 16 Oct 2021
Route map
Southeastern TOC route map 2010.svg

The South Eastern franchise, also known as the Integrated Kent franchise, is a railway franchise for the provision of passenger services between London and Kent in South East England.


The South Eastern franchise was formed as a shadow franchise in 1994 in the leadup to the privatisation of British Rail taking over the Network SouthEast services out of Blackfriars, Cannon Street, Charing Cross, London Bridge and London Victoria to Kent.

Connex South Eastern[edit]

Initially operating as South Eastern, on 13 October 1996 Connex South Eastern commenced operating the franchise having beaten bids from a Management/FirstBus consortium, GB Railways and Stagecoach.[1][2][3]

In December 2002, after the franchise ran into financial trouble, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) agreed to bail it out with a £58 million injection, with the end date brought forward from 2011 until 2006.[4] However continuing poor financial management resulted in the Strategic Rail Authority deciding to strip Connex of the franchise in June 2003.[5][6][7][8] Connex South Eastern continued to operate the franchise until 8 November 2003.[9][10]

South Eastern Trains[edit]

On 9 November 2003 South Eastern Trains, a subsidiary company of the SRA, took over the franchise for a planned 18 months. It took on all the leased rolling stock and most of Connex staff including senior management. In the event it took over two years to relet the franchise to a private company.


In December 2003 the SRA announced that Danish State Railways/Stagecoach, FirstGroup, Govia and MTR/Sea Containers had been shortlisted to bid for the replacement Integrated Kent franchise that would also incorporate services on High Speed 1 out of St Pancras.[11] In November 2005 the Department for Transport (DfT) announced Govia had been awarded the franchise with the services operated by South Eastern Trains transferred to Southeastern on 1 April 2006.[12][13][14]

The franchise was let for an initial eight years, with a two-year option dependent on performance targets being met. In December 2008, as part of the franchise agreement, operation of Redhill to Tonbridge Line services passed to Southern. High Speed 1 services began on 14 December 2009.[15] Having met the performance criteria, in March 2011 the DfT granted Govia a two-year franchise extension until March 2014.[16]

Following the DfT's review after the cancellation of the InterCity West Coast franchise process, extensions were granted to the franchises due for renewal with Southeastern's franchise extended until June 2018.[17][18] It has since been extended a number of times and was scheduled to conclude on 31 March 2020 however the direct award from the DfT extended the franchise to 16 October 2021.[19][20][21][22][23]


In June 2017 the DfT announced a shortlist of: Abellio/East Japan Railway Company/Mitsui consortium; incumbent Govia; Stagecoach; and Trenitalia for the next franchise, which was once again named the South Eastern franchise.[24][25] In August 2017, Trenitalia withdrew citing a desire to concentrate its resources on its bid for the West Coast Partnership.[26] In February 2018, it was announced that Alstom would take a 20% shareholding in the Stagecoach company.[27] In April 2019, Stagecoach was disqualified from the bidding because they did not meet pensions rules.[28]

The franchise was extended a number of times however on 7 August 2019, the franchise competition was cancelled and the DfT instead took up a further extension and the current franchise was due to cease on 31 March 2020,[29][23] until a new contract was agreed on 30 March 2020, running for up to 2 years.[30]


  1. ^ "Chiltern and SE bidders shortlisted" Rail Privatisation News issue 29 2 May 1996 page 4
  2. ^ "CGEA takes second franchise" Rail Privatisation News issue 37 22 August 1996 page 1
  3. ^ "South Eastern Trains sold to the French" The Railway Magazine issue 1146 October 1996 page 7
  4. ^ "SRA U-turn gives £58m to Connex" Rail issue 451 25 December 2002 page 6
  5. ^ Train firm loses franchise| BBC News 27 June 2003
  6. ^ Basher Bowker pulls the plug on Connex The Daily Telegraph 29 June 2003
  7. ^ "Connex shock at SE dismissal" Rail issue 465 9 July 2003 page 6
  8. ^ "Connex sacked from South-east franchise" The Railway Magazine issue 1229 September 2003 page 10
  9. ^ SRA Confirms Transfer from Connex to South Eastern Trains Strategic Rail Authority 8 November 2003
  10. ^ Rail authority takes on franchise BBC News 8 November 2003
  11. ^ Green Light for High Speed Services for Kent - Four Bidders Selected for new Kent Franchise Strategic Rail Authority 22 December 2003
  12. ^ "Govia wins Integrated Kent franchise" Rail issue 528 7 December 2005 page 16
  13. ^ "GoVia wins Integrated Kent franchise" Today's Railways UK issue 49 January 2006 page 7
  14. ^ Department for Transport announces integrated Kent franchise Department for Transport 30 January 2006
  15. ^ "High-speed travel for commuters". BBC News. 14 December 2009.
  16. ^ Southeastern franchise to tun to 2014 Go-Ahead 18 March 2011
  17. ^ Southeastern rail franchise renewed until 2018 BBC News 11 September 2014
  18. ^ Southeastern awarded franchise extension to 2018 Global Rail News 11 September 2014
  19. ^ Southeastern franchise extended to December 2018 Go-Ahead Group 6 December 2016
  20. ^ "Southeastern Direct Award Contract Extension - The Go-Ahead Group". Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  21. ^ Southeastern Direct Award Contract Extension Go-Ahead Group 21 December 2018
  22. ^ Southeastern franchise extension confirmed Railway Gazette International 13 June 2019
  23. ^ a b Bid to run Southeastern rail route scrapped BBC 7 August 2019
  24. ^ West Coast Partnership and South Eastern rail franchise bidders Department for Transport 22 June 2017
  25. ^ South Eastern franchise bidders announced Railway Gazette International 22 June 2017
  26. ^ Trenitalia pulls out of South Eastern Franchise contest International Railway Journal 10 August 2017
  27. ^
  28. ^ Stagecoach barred from rail franchise bids in pensions row BBC News 10 April 2019
  29. ^ Southeastern to introduce 15-minute Delay Repay compensation Southeastern 13 June 2019
  30. ^ "Critical rail services protected in new deals for GWR and Southeastern". Retrieved 30 March 2020.