Southern (Govia Thameslink Railway)
|Main Region(s):||London, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Kent|
|Other Region(s):||Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire|
|Stations called at:||213|
|Route km operated:||666.3|
|National Rail abbreviation:||SN|
|Parent company:||Govia Thameslink Railway|
Southern is the brand name used by the Govia Thameslink Railway train operating company on the Southern routes of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise. It is a subsidiary of Govia, a joint venture between transport groups Go-Ahead and Keolis, and operated the South Central rail franchise since August 2001 and the Gatwick Express service since June 2008.
On 26 July 2015, the franchisee was subsumed into Govia Thameslink Railway, but the existing Southern and Gatwick Express brand identities have been retained alongside those of Thameslink and Great Northern.
Southern operates the majority of commuter services from its Central London terminals at London Bridge and London Victoria to South London and Sussex as well as regional services in parts of Hampshire, Kent and Surrey. It is also provides services between Milton Keynes and Croydon via the West London Line.
Major destinations served include Banstead, Beckenham Junction, Epsom Downs, Epsom, Leatherhead, East Croydon, Mitcham Junction, Sutton, East Grinstead, Uckfield, Caterham, Tattenham Corner, Redhill, Gatwick Airport, Crawley, Horsham, Littlehampton, Bognor Regis, Southampton, Portsmouth, Brighton, Eastbourne and Ore.
In March 2000, the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority (SSRA) announced its intention to relet the franchise from May 2003 with Connex and Govia the shortlisted bidders. In October 2000 the SSRA announced that Govia had been awarded the franchise and would operate it from May 2003. Govia negotiated a deal with Connex to buy out the remainder of its franchise, and this was completed in August 2001. Govia trading as SouthCentral took over operations on 26 August 2001.
The franchise was originally to run for twenty years but in 2002 the Strategic Rail Authority changed the way it wanted investment funded, and Govia was awarded a seven-and-a-half-year franchise until December 2009.
In May 2004 the franchise was rebranded as Southern in a recall of the pre-nationalisation Southern Railway, using a green roundel logo with Southern in yellow in a green bar.
In April 2007 the Department for Transport (DfT) announced that the Gatwick Express franchise was to be incorporated into the South Central franchise. This was part of a plan to increase capacity on the Brighton Main Line, involving the extension of peak-hour services from Gatwick to Brighton and Eastbourne from December 2008. This doubled the number of London to Brighton express trains during those periods.
The South Central franchise end date was brought forward to September 2009 upon the integration of the Gatwick Express service, to allow the new operator to be in place during major changes to the timetable in and around South London in December 2009. In the run-up to the bidding process for the franchise, reports emerged suggesting that Transport for London, the operator of the London Overground service, wished to take control of all overground services in South London, including the 'Metro' area of the South Central franchise. However, such a transfer never took place and the DfT put out the entire franchise for tender.
In August 2008 the DfT shortlisted Abellio, Govia, National Express, NedRail and Stagecoach for the new South Central franchise. In June 2009 the DfT announced that Govia had retained the franchise, to start on 20 September 2009.
In March 2012 the Department for Transport announced that Abellio, FirstGroup, Govia, MTR and Stagecoach had been shortlisted for the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise. The Invitation to Tender was to be issued in October 2012, with the successful bidder announced in spring 2013. However, in the wake of the collapse of the InterCity West Coast refranchising process, the government announced in October 2012 that the process would be put on hold pending the results of a review.
The network of services operated by Southern includes local suburban ("Metro") services in South London and regional services extending into the southern Home Counties. All routes are south of the river Thames, with the exception of the West London service, which crosses the city via Shepherd's Bush and runs up the West Coast Mainline to Milton Keynes. Along with the Thameslink route, this provides one of the few long-distance National Rail routes to run right across London instead of terminating at one of the London rail termini. Southern routes which do not serve London include the West Coastway and East Coastway Lines along the south coast of Sussex, Kent and Hampshire.
Details of each route, including maps and timetables, are on Southern's website (see External links, below). Its routes off-peak Monday to Saturday, with frequencies in *trains per hour* (tph), include:
South Central inherited a fleet of Class 205, Class 207, Class 319, Class 421, Class 423, Class 455 and Class 456 multiple-unit trains from Connex South Central. Southern inherited a Class 73 locomotive and Class 460 Juniper trains from Gatwick Express.
A franchise commitment was to replace all the Mark 1 slam-door stock, resulting in Southern ordering 28 three-car, 139 four-car and 15 four-car dual-voltage Class 377 Electrostars in September 2001 and March 2002 to replace the Class 421, Class 422 and Class 423s.
In August 2002 Southern ordered nine two-car and six four-car Class 171 Turbostars to replace the Class 205s and Class 207s on the routes that are not fully electrified. In 2006 a tenth two-car Class 171 was transferred from South West Trains.
In 2007, Southern ordered 12 four-car, dual-voltage Class 377/5 Electrostars to replace the remaining twelve Class 319s for transfer to First Capital Connect. In March 2008 Go Ahead purchased (rather than lease through a ROSCO) a further 11 Class 377/5s. All 23 ended up being sublet to First Capital Connect to provide extra stock for the Thameslink Programme Key Output Zero changes from March 2009.
To provide stock for the extended Gatwick Express services to Brighton, in 2008 Southern leased 17 Class 442 Wessex Electrics withdrawn by South West Trains in early 2007. After retaining the franchise in 2009, Southern leased the remaining seven Class 442s. The last of the Class 460 Junipers were withdrawn in September 2012.
In 2011, Southern announced that, because of delays in procuring new trains for the Thameslink Programme, the 23 Class 377/5s on sub-lease to First Capital Connect would not be returned in time to deliver the operator's planned capacity increases from the December 2013 timetable change. It therefore began a process to procure 130 new vehicles. It was announced in December 2011 that Bombardier had been contracted to supply 26 five-car Class 377/6s. In November 2012 it was announced that an option for a further 40 vehicles was being exercised.
All twenty-four Class 456 sets were transferred to South West Trains in 2014 after the introduction of the Class 377/6 fleet.
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Number||Cars per set||Routes operated||Built|
|Class 73||Electro-diesel locomotive||90||145||1||1||Thunderbird locomotive||1965–1967|
|Class 171||DMU||100||160||171/7 - 10||171/7 - 2||Oxted Line (Uckfield branch)
|171/8 - 6||171/8 - 4|
|Class 313||EMU||75||120||19||3||West Coastway Line: Brighton – Hove/West Worthing/Portsmouth Harbour and Littlehampton – Barnham/Bognor Regis/Portsmouth & Southsea
East Coastway Line: Brighton – Lewes/Seaford
Also operate services between Brighton and Littlehampton, Bognor Regis, Eastbourne and Ore during peak hours
|Class 377||EMU||100||160||377/1 - 64||377/1 - 4||Entire Southern network (apart from the Uckfield and Marshlink lines).
377/5 and a number of 377/2 units in use with Thameslink sub-leased from Southern
|377/2 - 6||377/2 - 4|
|377/3 - 28||377/3 - 3|
|377/4 - 75||377/4 - 4|
|377/6 - 26||377/6 - 5|
|377/7 - 8 ||377/7 - 5|
|Class 442 (5Wes) Wessex Electric||EMU||100||160||24||5||London Victoria – Gatwick Airport/Brighton (Gatwick Express)
London Bridge – Eastbourne
Weekends: London Victoria – East Croydon – Brighton (Southern)
|Class 455||EMU||75||120||46||4||Suburban services from London Victoria and London Bridge on London Metro||1982–1984|
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Number||Cars per set||Seat layout||Routes operated||Built||Years operated||Notes|
|Class 387/2||EMU||110||177||27||4||2+2||Brighton & Gatwick Express route||2015||From 2016||Govia have also announced in addition to the new Thameslink trains they will order new trains for the Brighton and Gatwick Express routes; 108 carriages are expected.|
|Class 170/4||DMU||100||160||4||3||2+2||London Bridge - Uckfield||1999-2004||From 2015||Obtained from First ScotRail following transfer of franchise
To be converted to Class 171
|Class 205 (3H)||DMU||1957–60||2004||Some preserved.|
|Class 207 (3D)||DMU||1962||2004||Some preserved.|
|Class 319||EMU||1987||2008||Transferred to First Capital Connect after being made redundant by newer Class 377 trains.|
|Class 350 Desiro||EMU||2004-2005||2009||These trains were subleased from London Midland from 2008 to 2009, to provide cover for Class 377 units subleased to First Capital Connect. After newer Class 377 trains were built, these units were returned to London Midland.|
|Class 421 (4Cig)||EMU||1964–66||2005||Some preserved.|
|Class 423 (4Vep)||EMU||1967–71||2005||Some preserved.|
|Class 456||EMU||1990–1991||2013-2014||Transferred to South West Trains after being made redundant by newer Class 377/6 units.|
|Class 460 (8Gat) Juniper||EMU||2000–2001||2011–2012||Have been merged to work with Class 458 fleet used by South West Trains.|
Southern's fleet is maintained at Brighton Lovers Walk and Selhurst depots. The Gatwick Express fleet is maintained at Stewarts Lane. Since December 2014, the Class 455 fleet is now maintained at Stewarts Lane (having transferred from Selhurst).
Southern, as part of its successful bid for the South Central franchise in 2009, made several commitments to improving services across the network. These included:
- Increasing the length of suburban services in South London to 10 cars between 2011 and 2013
- Increasing the service level on all routes in South London to 4 trains per hour (tph) until 23:00 each day, and the introduction of late-night services on Fridays and Saturdays
- The introduction of an hourly service on Sundays between Brighton and Southampton Central, and an increase in the number of late-night services between Brighton and Worthing
- The introduction of late-night services on the London to Uckfield route
- Installation of new ticket gates at 22 stations across the network
- Increasing the number of car-parking spaces at stations by 1,000 and the number of cycle spaces by 1,500
- Cleaning and refreshing of all stations and trains on the network
- Major refurbishments to seven stations: Brighton, Haywards Heath, Hove, Lewes, Redhill, Three Bridges and Worthing
- Class 456 units are to be transferred to South West Trains in 2014 after the 26 new 5-car Class 377/6 fleet enters service with Southern in 2013
With the last franchise expiring on 26 July 2015, the South Central franchise was merged with the Thameslink Great Northern franchise to create Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern. This is operated by Govia Thameslink Railway, which is also owned by Southern's parent company, Govia. The Southern brand identity has been retained.
The franchise consultation paper released at the beginning of the 2009 franchising process stated that the ultimate franchise agreement would include a change mechanism to enable the DfT to incorporate additional routes into the South Central franchise, and it invited bidders to submit priced options for schemes put forward by stakeholders. One such scheme could, as indicated in the South Central Franchise Consultation Paper, be the reopening of the Uckfield – Lewes line, closed in 1969. In recent years, several interested parties have been examining the possibility of reopening the line.
In 2012, Southern became the first rail company in England to use the ITSO card on its network. The Key is a smartcard similar to Transport for London's Oyster Card. Tickets for the smartcard are only available in Single, Return, Weekly, Monthly and Annual Season tickets. Southern plans to add a Pay-As-You-Go option in the near future, but tests on this are still in progress. There are three types of The Key smartcards: Child, Adult and Staff. All child smartcards need a photograph to prove the age of the holder, while adults who wish to use their smartcard only for single and return tickets do not require a picture. The Key is insured so if lost or stolen it can be de-activated and the tickets transferred to a new card sent out in the post.
The Key allows customers to buy Plusbus for the Crawley and Brighton areas. This is because Metrobus (which operates in Crawley) and Brighton and Hove Buses are owned by Go-Ahead Group, Southern's parent company. Brighton & Hove Buses also use The Key on their buses but it is not possible to use a B&H bus key on Southern and vice versa at the moment unless using Plusbus. Southern is looking to change this by the end of 2013.
The Key operates only at stations managed by Southern and outside of London because it is not currently compatible with the Oystercard readers. Southern has been working with Transport for London and the Department for Transport to change this, and the Oystercard readers should be compatible by December 2013.
Southern operated a pilot for The Key between Brighton and Seaford in 2010 as these stations are served only by Southern trains (with the exception of Brighton). This was a success and so in 2012 it began to gradually expand across the network. Originally the only ticket type available on The Key was season tickets; in August 2013 Southern added Return and Single tickets to The Key.
In early 2006, Southern became the focus of attention from cyclists' groups as a result of its policy prohibiting the carriage of ordinary cycles during peak hours on trains destined for London and Brighton.
Southern and sister company Southeastern were criticised in January 2007 for not wishing to introduce Oyster Pay As You Go on its London routes, stating that it was not financially viable. In 2007 Southern introduced Oyster on its Watford Junction to Clapham Junction route, and the company later agreed in principle to the introduction of Oyster across its network, but did not give any firm timescale, managing director Chris Burchell saying
"There are still a number of outstanding issues that need to be discussed with TfL, but we do not believe these will prevent us making PAYG a reality on our network. We look forward to discussions with TfL on how we can make this happen as soon as possible for our passengers."
In its successful franchise bid in 2009, Southern said it was committed to rolling out Oyster Pay As You Go in the London area, but also that such a move was subject to industry agreement. Since 2 January 2010, Oyster Pay As You Go has been valid on all its London routes, along with most other train services in the London area.
In January 2015 Southern hit controversy when it was revealed that the 7.29am Brighton to London Victoria train failed to get in on time on any occasion out of all 240 attempts in 2014. Later in May 2015 it was revealed that Southern had fined passengers for standing in first class on an overcrowded train.
Southern was criticised for major changes to its timetables in December 2007 and December 2008.
In December 2007, Southern changed the arrangement for the splitting of services to and from London Victoria on the Arun Valley Line, opting to split trains at Horsham rather than Barnham. Some passengers criticised this change as it increased the journey time to and from London by up to 10 minutes from certain stations, while in the event of services running behind schedule, trains were sometimes not split at Horsham, and proceeded non-stop to Barnham, leaving Arun Valley commuters at Horsham with the prospect of no onward trains.
In December 2008 further timetable changes included the introduction of the extended Gatwick Express services. However, reliability and timekeeping on some of the new services were considered poor, leading to several public meetings being held. On 22 January 2009, Southern responded to some of these criticisms. During 2009 these services have recorded improved timekeeping and criticisms have since subsided.
Until February 2009 Southern used to operate hourly services between Watford Junction and Brighton, but now these services no longer operate from Brighton and now terminate at South Croydon and most services are extended through Watford Junction to Milton Keynes Central.
December 2010 timetable
Further changes to the timetable were made in December 2010; the first timetable change to include many of the requirements of the new franchise. Additional services were included at evenings and weekends. In the London area a 'metro' frequency of service was introduced on most routes with the extension of the weekday daytime four-trains-per-hour norm to late evenings (up to around midnight), Saturdays and Sundays. In addition, new late-night services were introduced from London on Friday and Saturday nights with last trains leaving central London at around 00:30.
Outside London, a new later-evening service was introduced to Uckfield from London Bridge, new late-night services from Brighton along the west coastway and direct services between Southampton and Brighton on Sundays.
Southern's plans for enhanced services between Victoria and Brighton with a new four-trains-per-hour frequency were rejected at the last minute by the Office of Rail Regulation.
- Companies House extract company no 6574965 Southern Railway Limited
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Southern (train operating company).|
Connex South Central
Network SouthCentral franchise
|Operator of South Central franchise
2001 – 2009
South Central (incl Gatwick Express) franchise
Gatwick Express franchise
|Operator of Gatwick Express franchise
2008 – 2009
South Central franchise
|Operator of South Central (incl Gatwick Express) franchise
2009 – 2015
Govia Thameslink Railway
Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise
Gatwick Express franchise
South Central (incl Gatwick Express) franchise
|Sub-brand of Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise
2015 - present