Eversheds advises UK government on major strategic rail franchise deal

Eversheds has advised the Department for Transport (DfT) on the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise, which has been awarded to Govia Thameslink Railway.

The new seven-year franchise will be the largest in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue and staff.

The franchise will deliver to passengers the benefits of the government’s £6.5bn ‘Thameslink Programme’: a major rail infrastructure upgrade scheme of national economic significance.

The core north/south cross-London Thameslink route between Blackfriars and St Pancras will be upgraded to operate 24 trains an hour in each direction between Blackfriars and St Pancras, and a new tunnel at Kings Cross linking this route to the East Coast Main Line will bring Peterborough and Cambridge onto the Thameslink network.

The new franchisee will be responsible for introducing into service the 1,140-carriage ‘Class 700 Desiro City’ train fleet, which has been designed to deliver the benefits of the upgraded infrastructure to passengers and is currently under construction.

Govia will also order a new fleet of 108 carriages for the Gatwick Express service, replacing the current 25-year-old trains with a fleet better suited to the needs of airport passengers, and acquire 150 new carriages to replace the 40-year-old trains currently operating on the route between Moorgate, North London and Hertfordshire.

TSGN will replace the existing Thameslink Great Northern franchise, currently operated by FirstGroup as First Capital Connect, from September 2014 and the existing South Central franchise operated by Govia from July 2015.

The Eversheds team was led by partner Anne Harris and legal director Agnes Koko. It included specialist procurement partner James Robinson and Evelyn Onifade, Paola Scagnelli and Tony Singh.