Pledge to commuters as Southern rail franchise renewed

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The Independent Online

Commuters were promised a 10% increase in train capacity today after the firm behind Southern services retained its franchise deal.

Govia - a joint venture between Go-Ahead and French transport firm Keolis - has kept the right to run Southern trains in London and the South East.



Under the franchise - the first to be awarded since the recession began - Govia has committed to provide the extra capacity by December 2013, including longer trains on peak-time services into London Victoria and Brighton.













Southern trains currently carry around 150 million passengers a year.

Other major service improvements will include new late-night services in south London, an hourly Brighton to Southampton train on Sundays and an extra Gatwick Express service from Brighton at peak times.



Govia - which has run the franchise since 2001 - is to spend £76 million on trains and stations over the life of the new deal.



There will also be more car and bicycle parking at stations, improved security and a further push on punctuality.



Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis said: "It will greatly improve the quality of service and give passengers better value for money."



Govia - which also runs the Southeastern and London Midland franchises and accounts for almost 30% of UK rail journeys - is also expecting a 2% fall in passenger numbers in the year to June 2010 in the bleak economic climate.



The company estimates that passenger numbers will take until June 2012 to return to levels seen this year, with the subdued conditions set to continue for the next two years.



The franchise has so far been supported by revenue subsidies from the Department for Transport, although the company will pay £534 million to the DfT in premiums over the life of the new deal.



Govia expects regulated fares to rise annually by 1% above Retail Prices Index inflation in line with Government policy, and has assumed that unregulated fares increase on average by a similar amount.

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