Govia starts running Thames link and Great Northern

Govia began running its Thameslink and Great Northern rail services on Sunday 14 September, the first phase of the new Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) franchise. GTR is the largest rail franchise in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue and staff; and the first one to start operating under the Government’s new franchising programme.

At the launch of the new franchise, Charles Horton, GTR Chief Executive, said:

“I’m very excited to be leading the team dedicated to running the UK’s biggest franchise. Over time we will be making real improvements to passengers’ experience and managing the major changes that are happening on this part of the rail network.

“We’ve listened to what people want, and will be increasing capacity on busy commuter services, improving reliability and punctuality, introducing three new fleets of trains, spending £50 million on station improvements, and investing in our employees' training and development.

“There’s no underestimating the challenge of the task ahead. But I’m confident that we have the people and the plans in place to make a real difference to the service we give our passengers, and that for our staff GTR will be a great place to work."

There will be £430 million investment in the GTR franchise during its seven-year term, bringing significant improvements for passengers, including:

  • New trains - three new train fleets for Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express
  • More services - 26% more carriages and 10,000 additional seats on trains to London in the morning peak, and additional services
  • Increased capacity - 50% more room for passengers
  • Improved reliability and punctuality - restructured timetable, improved operations
  • More ticket options -flexible ticket options and new GTR smartcard, the key
  • Better connections -up to 24 trains an hour through the Thameslink core in peak periods, links to Gatwick and Luton airports and Crossrail thanks to the government's multi-billion investment in the Thameslink Programme
  • Improved stations -Wi-fi at 104 stations, staffing from first to last train at 101 stations, ticket machines and information screens at all stations

The Thameslink and Great Northern routes connect important regional centres north and south of London such as Peterborough, Cambridge, Bedford, Luton, Brighton, Portsmouth and Southampton. The services have direct rail links to Gatwick and Luton airports, and to Eurostar at St Pancras International. And from 2018 trains to Farringdon station will connect with Crossrail, bringing fast links to Heathrow, Canary Wharf and central London.

In July 2015 the Southern and Gatwick Express routes will be incorporated into GTR, and a small number of services and stations currently operated by Southeastern will transfer to the franchise in December 2014.

GTR will carry 273 million passenger journeys per year, employ around 6,500 people and generate annual passenger revenues of £1.3bn.

The basis of the franchise is a management contract, which means that Govia passes the ticket revenues directly to the Government rather than the company retaining the revenue. This is due to the complexity and scale of the changes to the services and infrastructure.


For further information, please contact:

The Go-Ahead Group
Sarah Boundy, Group Corporate Communications Director
07808 568 667


Go-Ahead is a leading UK public transport operator, providing high quality services in the bus and rail sectors. Employing around 26,000 people acorss the country, over one billion passenger journeys are undertaken on our services each year. We are committed to operating our companies in a safe, socially and environmentally responsible way and are proud to have been accredited with triple Carbon Trust Standard for reductions in carbon, water and waste. In addition to the travelling public, or customers include the Department for Transport, Transport for London (TfL) and local authorities.