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Southeastern set to secure six-month extension to franchise to run train services across Kent

Southeastern is set to secure a six-month extension to its franchise to run train services across Kent.

The proposed extension - taking the contract to December 2018 - has been put forward by the Department for Transport and is aimed at minimising the potential for disruption.

The current contract is scheduled to end in June 2018 at a time when key timetable changes are due to come in, which also coincides with major upheaval in the train network.

Staff have been praised for saving the life of the woman. Stock image
Staff have been praised for saving the life of the woman. Stock image

This includes work on the £6bn Thameslink programme that involves the re-building of London Bridge station and work on the Crossrail scheme.

The DfT is understood to feel an extension would also allow potential bidders for one of the busiest parts of the rail network more time to take account of major developments and design a package benefiting more passengers.

The news of a further extension may not please passengers who this week face an average 1.8% increase in the cost of Southeastern tickets.

Southeastern was awarded a new franchise in September 2014 partly on the condition that it met tougher targets for services.

Stock picture.
Stock picture.

At that time the government said extending the existing contract was preferable to offering it to another operator, given the major work going on across the rail network.

However, Southeastern’s performance has been under the spotlight several times with Kent MPs regularly criticising delays and cancellations.

In December, the transport minister Chris Grayling announced the franchise for running services in Kent would be one of the first to be let under a radical shake-up that means it will be forced to team-up with Network Rail.

The minister said he wanted to end the current division of responsibility, where services were run by one company and tracks and infrastucture by another.

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