Southern (Govia Thameslink Railway)
Southern is the brand name used by the Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) train operating company on the Southern routes of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise in England. It is a subsidiary of Govia, a joint venture between transport groups Go-Ahead and Keolis, and has operated the South Central rail franchise since August 2001 and the Gatwick Express service since June 2008. In July 2015, the franchisee was subsumed into GTR, but the Southern and Gatwick Express brand identities were retained alongside those of Thameslink and Great Northern.
|Main Region(s)||London, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Kent|
|Other Region(s)||Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire|
|Stations called at||213|
|Route km operated||666.3|
|National Rail abbreviation||SN|
|Parent company||Govia Thameslink Railway|
|Gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Electrification||25 kV 50 hz AC OHLE|
750 V DC third rail
Southern had the most dissatisfied passengers in Britain three years in a row, according to the national rail passenger surveys 2016, 2017 and 2018. In 2018 it scored poorly for reliability, punctuality and value for money.
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 also provides services between Milton Keynes and Croydon via the West London Line.
Major destinations served include: Beckenham Junction, Bexhill, Bognor Regis, Brighton, Caterham, Chichester, Crawley, Eastbourne, East Croydon, East Grinstead, Epsom, Epsom Downs, Gatwick Airport, Horsham, Mitcham Junction, Leatherhead, Littlehampton, Portsmouth Harbour, Redhill, Southampton Central, Sutton (London), Tattenham Corner, Uckfield and Worthing.
- 1 History
- 2 Routes
- 3 Rolling stock
- 4 Depots
- 5 Future
- 6 Rolling out of smartcards
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
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, 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 handled financing agreements and therefore Govia was re-awarded with 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 main 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 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.
At the conclusion of the Southern franchise in July 2015, the South Central franchise was merged into the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise, which is run as a management contract rather than a traditional franchise. However the Southern brand was retained.
2007 & 2008 timetablesEdit
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.
December 2010 timetableEdit
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 line and direct services between Southampton and Brighton on Sundays.
Punctuality and overcrowdingEdit
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. Only 20% of Southern trains arrived on time in the year from April 2015 to March 2016, and there was an ongoing industrial dispute over driver-only operated trains. In late 2016, the Transport Select Committee told ministers to "get a grip" on railway franchises, with their report asking if the train operator was in breach of their contractual obligations due to the large number of cancelled trains, and went on to say, "in normal circumstances, this would be grounds for termination of the contract".
2016 amended timetableEdit
In 2016, the company introduced an "amended timetable [that] would be a temporary measure until staffing returned to normal" to be announced on 5 July. The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) trade union said that 350 services would be cancelled every day (the company ran 2,242 weekday services in the previous timetable). The company said it had insufficient personnel, and too many were taking sick leave; the union denied that high levels of sickness were the cause of cancellations, while agreeing that there were an insufficient number of guards and drivers.
The government Department for Transport said that the situation was unacceptable. While the company was obliged to notify the Department in advance, this did not amount to giving the company permission for the changes. The RMT union general secretary Mick Cash said the government had permitted GTR to introduce the emergency timetable, but that it was "nothing to do with staff sickness and everything to do with gross mismanagement of this franchise and the failure to employ enough guards and drivers. ... a cynical and cowardly ploy".
The London Evening Standard mentioned Southern in an article in June 2016 "Southern rail suggests commuter goes on 100 mile detour to Clapham instead of her normal six minute journey". In June 2016, amongst criticism of the performance of its services, Go-Ahead warned of lower than anticipated profits on its Govia Thameslink Railway franchises, leading to an 18% drop in the Go-Ahead share price.
From 31 October 2016, Southern restored the full weekday timetable.
Control of doors and strikesEdit
In 2016, Southern altered its method of door operation, with control of the doors moving from the conductor to the driver. Southern said this would allow the conductor to concentrate on the passengers, but the RMT and Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) unions said that it was an attempt to make conductors unnecessary and would be unsafe. The rail safety regulator, the Rail Standards and Safety Board has said that "We have 30 years of data which we have analysed. We have found that the driver performing the task does not increase the risk to passengers at all." In 2016, the RMT and ASLEF unions went on strike over the changes, causing severe disruption to Southern services. The strikes continued into 2017.
The BBC suggested that the RMT union are particularly worried about the new method of operation because if drivers (rather than conductors) control the doors then trains could run without conductors and thus any strike by conductors would not have the power to cancel trains.
In December 2016, it was announced that the government would pay £50 million to Southern to cover the costs of the disruption caused by the strikes, due to a deal between the government and Southern. This deal means that the government pays £38 million for lost revenue and £15 million in compensation to passengers. This deal also means that Govia Thameslink Railway will save around £1.1 million in pay for striking workers. Commentators argue that the government gave a management contract rather than a normal franchise to GTR in order to push through DOO. The management contract meant that GTR did not have the incentive to resolve strikes as a normal franchisee would have, as the government lost money from strikes rather than GTR.
On 2 February 2017, the TUC announced that talks between Southern and ASLEF had reached an agreement meaning that the dispute with ASLEF had been resolved. However, the RMT union said it was 'betrayed' by Southern, strikes by the RMT will continue.
Commencing 29 June 2017, ASLEF implemented an overtime ban, aiming to highlight a claimed failure by Southern to recruit adequate staff.
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 Route service, which crosses London via Shepherd's Bush and runs up the West Coast Main Line to Milton Keynes. Along with the Thameslink and future Crossrail 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). As of December 2019, the off-peak Monday-Saturday service pattern, with frequencies in trains per hour (tph), consists of:
|London Victoria to Brighton (express)||2||Gatwick Airport||387|
|London Victoria to Gatwick Airport||2||non-stop||387|
|London Victoria to Brighton (semi-fast)||2||Clapham Junction, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Haywards Heath, Burgess Hill, Hassocks||377|
|London Victoria to Littlehampton and Eastbourne via Haywards Heath||1||Clapham Junction, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Haywards Heath
The two portions divide/attach at Haywards Heath.
Preston Park, Hove, Portslade, Shoreham-by-Sea, Lancing (London-bound only), Worthing, West Worthing, Durrington-on-Sea, Goring-by-Sea, Angmering
Wivelsfield, Cooksbridge, Lewes, Polegate, Hampden Park
|London Victoria to Ore and Littlehampton via Haywards Heath||1||Clapham Junction, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Haywards Heath
The two portions divide/attach at Haywards Heath.
Plumpton, Lewes, Polegate, Eastbourne, Hampden Park, Pevensey & Westham, Cooden Beach, Collington, Bexhill, St Leonards Warrior Square, Hastings
Trains reverse at Eastbourne, and only call at Hampden Park once.
Hove, Portslade, Shoreham-by-Sea, Lancing (Littlehampton-bound only), Worthing, West Worthing, Durrington-on-Sea, Goring-by-Sea, Angmering
|London Victoria to Southampton Central and Bognor Regis via Crawley||1||Clapham Junction, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Crawley, Horsham
The two portions divide/attach at Horsham.
|Southampton Central portion:
Barnham, Chichester, Southbourne, Emsworth, Havant, Cosham, Portchester, Fareham, Swanwick
|Bognor Regis portion:|
Christ's Hospital, Billingshurst, Pulborough, Amberley, Arundel, Ford, Barnham
|London Victoria to Portsmouth Harbour and Bognor Regis via Crawley||1||Clapham Junction, East Croydon, Gatwick Airport, Three Bridges, Crawley, Horsham
The two portions divide/attach at Horsham.
|Portsmouth Harbour portion:
Barnham, Chichester, Havant, Fratton, Portsmouth & Southsea
|Bognor Regis portion:|
Billingshurst, Pulborough, Arundel, Ford, Barnham
|Brighton to Lewes||2||London Road, Moulsecoomb, Falmer||313|
|Brighton to Seaford||2||London Road, Moulsecoomb, Falmer, Lewes, Southease (1tph), Newhaven Town, Newhaven Harbour, Bishopstone||313|
|Brighton to Hastings||1||Moulsecoomb, Falmer, Lewes, Berwick, Polegate, Hampden Park, Eastbourne, Hampden Park (Brighton-bound only), Pevensey & Westham (Brighton-bound only), Bexhill, St Leonards Warrior Square
Trains reverse at Eastbourne. Trains call at Hampden Park once towards Hastings but twice towards Brighton.
|Brighton to Ore||1||Falmer, Lewes, Glynde, Polegate, Eastbourne, Hampden Park (Ore-bound only), Pevensey & Westham (Ore-bound only), Bexhill, St Leonards Warrior Square, Hastings
Trains reverse at Eastbourne. Trains call at Hampden Park once, towards Ore only.
|Eastbourne to Ashford International||1||Hampden Park, Pevensey & Westham, Pevensey Bay (limited), Normans Bay, Cooden Beach, Collington, Bexhill, St Leonards Warrior Square, Hastings, Ore, Three Oaks (1tp2h), Doleham (limited), Winchelsea (1tp2h), Rye, Appledore, Ham Street
Three Oaks and Winchelsea are served by alternate trains.
|Brighton to Hove||2||313|
|Brighton to West Worthing||2||Hove, Aldrington, Portslade, Fishersgate, Southwick, Shoreham-by-Sea, Lancing, East Worthing, Worthing||313|
|Brighton to Southampton Central||1||Hove, Portslade, Southwick, Shoreham-by-Sea, Lancing, Worthing, West Worthing, Durrington-on-Sea, Goring-by-Sea, Angmering, Ford, Barnham, Chichester, Emsworth, Havant, Cosham, Fareham, Swanwick||377|
|Brighton to Portsmouth Harbour||1||Hove, Portslade, Southwick, Shoreham-by-Sea, Lancing, Worthing, Angmering, Barnham, Chichester, Southbourne, Emsworth, Havant, Fratton, Portsmouth & Southsea||313|
|Littlehampton to Bognor Regis||1||Ford, Barnham||313|
|Barnham to Bognor Regis||1||313|
|Littlehampton to Portsmouth & Southsea||1||Ford, Barnham, Chichester, Fishbourne, Bosham, Nutbourne, Southbourne, Emsworth, Warblington, Havant, Bedhampton, Hilsea, Fratton||313|
|London Victoria to East Grinstead||2||Clapham Junction, East Croydon, Sanderstead, Riddlesdown, Upper Warlingham, Woldingham, Oxted, Hurst Green, Lingfield, Dormans||377|
|London Bridge to Uckfield||1||East Croydon, Oxted, Hurst Green, Edenbridge Town, Hever, Cowden, Ashurst, Eridge, Crowborough, Buxted||171|
|London Victoria to Reigate||2||Clapham Junction, East Croydon, Purley, Coulsdon South, Merstham, Redhill||377|
|Redhill to Tonbridge||1||Nutfield, Godstone, Edenbridge, Penshurst, Leigh||377|
|Milton Keynes Central to East Croydon||1||Bletchley, Leighton Buzzard, Tring, Berkhamsted, Hemel Hempstead, Watford Junction, Harrow & Wealdstone, Wembley Central, Shepherd's Bush, Kensington (Olympia), West Brompton, Imperial Wharf, Clapham Junction, Balham, Streatham Common, Norbury, Thornton Heath, Selhurst||377|
|London Victoria to Dorking (and Horsham) via Carshalton||2||Clapham Junction, Carshalton, Sutton, Cheam, Epsom, Ashtead, Leatherhead, Box Hill & Westhumble (1tph)
1tph extended to/from Horsham, calling at Holmwood, Ockley and Warnham.
Box Hill & Westhumble is served by trains to/from Horsham.
|London Victoria to Epsom via Carshalton||2||Clapham Junction, Balham, Mitcham Eastfields, Mitcham Junction, Hackbridge, Carshalton, Sutton, Cheam, Ewell East||377|
|London Victoria to Sutton (and Epsom Downs) via Norbury||4||Battersea Park, Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Common, Balham, Streatham Common, Norbury, Thornton Heath, Selhurst, West Croydon, Waddon, Wallington, Carshalton Beeches;
2tph extended to/from Epsom Downs calling at Belmont and Banstead.
|London Victoria to West Croydon via Gipsy Hill||2||Battersea Park, Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Common, Balham, Streatham Hill, West Norwood, Gipsy Hill, Crystal Palace, Norwood Junction||377|
|London Victoria to London Bridge via Gipsy Hill||2||Battersea Park, Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Common, Balham, Streatham Hill, West Norwood, Gipsy Hill, Crystal Palace
Services continue to London Bridge via Sydenham (see below).
|London Bridge to London Victoria via Sydenham||2||New Cross Gate, Brockley, Honor Oak Park, Forest Hill, Sydenham, Crystal Palace
Services continue to London Victoria via Gipsy Hill (see above).
|London Bridge to Coulsdon Town via Sydenham||2||New Cross Gate, Brockley, Honor Oak Park, Forest Hill, Sydenham, Penge West, Anerley, Norwood Junction, East Croydon, South Croydon, Purley Oaks, Purley, Reedham||455|
|London Bridge to Epsom||2||Norwood Junction, West Croydon, Waddon, Wallington, Carshalton Beeches, Sutton, Cheam, Ewell East||377|
|London Bridge to Caterham and Tattenham Corner||2||East Croydon, South Croydon, Purley Oaks, Purley
The two portions divide/attach at Purley.
Kenley, Whyteleafe, Whyteleafe South
|Tattenham Corner portion:|
Reedham, Coulsdon Town, Woodmansterne, Chipstead, Kingswood, Tadworth
|London Bridge to Caterham via Peckham Rye and Norbury||2||South Bermondsey, Queens Road Peckham, Peckham Rye, East Dulwich, North Dulwich, Tulse Hill, Streatham, Streatham Common, Norbury, Thornton Heath, Selhurst, East Croydon, Purley, Kenley, Whyteleafe, Whyteleafe South||455|
|London Bridge to Beckenham Junction via Peckham Rye||2||South Bermondsey, Queens Road Peckham, Peckham Rye, East Dulwich, North Dulwich, Tulse Hill, West Norwood, Gipsy Hill, Crystal Palace, Birkbeck||455|
Most Southern routes are operated using electric multiple units, but the London Bridge-East Croydon-Oxted-Uckfield and Eastbourne-Hastings-Rye-Ashford International routes are not fully electrified and are operated using diesel multiple units.
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 DC, 139 four-car DC 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 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.
In April 2016, Southern commenced a lease for nine three-carriage Class 170s last used by First ScotRail from Eversholt Rail Group. Four (170421-424) moved to Wolverton railway works in 2015 and were reconfigured as two two-carriage and two four-carriage Class 171s. The other five (170416-420) remain in Scotland on sub-lease to Abellio ScotRail and were scheduled to move to Southern in 2018. However, this will no longer occur, with these along with 12 of Southern's existing Class 171s (including the /2s and /4s) moving to East Midlands Railway in 2021.
|Class||Image||Type||Top speed||Number||Cars per set||Routes operated||Built|
|171 Turbostar||DMU||100||160||171/2 - 2||2||Oxted Line (Uckfield branch)
|171/4 - 2||4|
|171/7 - 10||2|
|171/8 - 6||4|
|313||EMU||75||120||19||3||West Coastway Line stopping services
East Coastway Line stopping services
|377 Electrostar||EMU||100||160||377/1 - 62||377/1 - 4||Entire Southern network apart from Oxted to
Uckfield and Ore to Ashford International
|377/2 - 15||377/2 - 4|
|377/3 - 28||377/3 - 3|
|377/4 - 75||377/4 - 4|
|377/6 - 26||377/6 - 5||2012-2014|
|377/7 - 8 ||377/7 - 5|
|387/1 & 387/2 Electrostar||EMU||110||177||1||4||Brighton & Gatwick Express route||2015-2016|
|73||Electro-diesel locomotive||90||145||1||1||Thunderbird locomotive||1965–1967|
Former units operated by Southern include:
|205 (3H)||DMU||1957–60||2004||Replaced by Class 171. Some preserved.|
|319||EMU||1987||2008||Transferred to First Capital Connect after being made redundant by newer Class 377 trains.|
|350/1 Desiro||EMU||2004-05||2009||These trains were subleased from London Midland from 2008-09, 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.|
|421 (4Cig)||EMU||1964–66||2005||Replaced by Class 377. Some preserved.|
|442 Wessex Electrics||1988–89||2017||Transferred from South West Trains. Class 442s were transferred back to South Western Railway after being replaced by Class 387/2.|
|456||EMU||1990–91||2014||Transferred to South West Trains after being made redundant by newer Class 377/6s.|
|460 Juniper||EMU||2000–01||2012||Transferred to South West Trains and subsequently merged with Class 458 fleet.|
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
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.
Future of the franchiseEdit
In January 2016, Transport for London announced a proposal to take over the London suburban parts of the franchise in 2021 through a partnership with the Department for Transport to form a new suburban metro service. However, the plan was rejected by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in December 2016. In November 2017, the Government announced it was investigating the possibility of transferring some of the Southern routes to TfL after the franchise expires in 2021.
In January 2017, it was reported that the Department for Transport was considering temporarily renationalising the franchise if the service did not improve.
Rolling out of smartcardsEdit
This section needs to be updated.July 2016)(
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 addition, Oyster is valid on Southern services beyond the Greater London boundary as far as Epsom, Epsom Downs, Tattenham Corner, Upper Warlingham, Caterham and Gatwick Airport.
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 available only 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 that 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 uses The Key on its 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 London because it is not currently compatible with the Oyster card readers. Southern has been working with Transport for London and the Department for Transport to change this, and the Oyster card 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.
As of January 2020, The Key is available on the entire Southern network with the exception of the West Coastway Line west of Warblington, the West London Line north of Harrow & Wealdstone and the Mole Valley Line between Bookham and Guildford (which has a limited Southern service).
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- "Bidders to oversee improvements on rail franchises announced" (Press release). Department for Transport. 29 March 2012.
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- Official Journal of the European Union Notice Archived 27 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Department for Transport. 19 December 2011.
- Consultation on the Combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise Archived 17 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Department for Transport. May 2012.
- Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise Archived 20 March 2015 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group
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- "December timetable changes announced : Southern". Archived from the original on 31 December 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
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- Engineering plans at Haymarket Depot Abellio ScotRail
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- As of 28 August 2013 also from https://www.southernrailway.com/smart-card/
- "Unlock the secret to quicker, easier travel with the key". Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
- The Key Smartcard : Southern ("Where Can I Use My Key?")
Media related to Southern (train operating company) at Wikimedia Commons
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