THE DEPARTMENT for Transport has announced a shortlist of four bidders for the next South Eastern franchise, due to begin in December 2018. Incumbent operator Govia will bid against Stagecoach, Trenitalia and a joint venture between Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui. DfT’s consultation on the new franchise suggested lengthening trains, simplifying service patterns and abolishing first class provision could form part of the franchise specification. An invitation to tender is due to be released in September, with the franchise awarded in August 2018.

Meanwhile, Amey and SNCF have been awarded pre-qualification questionnaire passports by the Department for Transport, meaning the companies are now eligible to express an interest in upcoming franchise competitions.