New Trains In Seven-Year Rail Franchise Win
Three new state-of-the-art electric train fleets are to be rolled out on the busiest rail routes in London and the South East.
The new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise will be run by Govia, with rival FirstGroup missing out.
Govia has been awarded a seven-year contract, which includes construction of nearly 1,400 new carriages.
Govia is 65% owned by the Go-Ahead Group and 35% by France's Keolis.
The franchise will carry more than 280 million passengers annually.
Go-Ahead Group CEO David Brown said: "I'm delighted the (Depatment for Transport) has chosen us to operate this important and complex franchise and to play an instrumental role in delivering the benefits of the Government's £6bn Thameslink programme.
"This will be the UK's busiest franchise and we will be introducing 50% more capacity into central London during peak times, with 26% more morning peak carriages providing 10,000 additional seats."
Services and capacity are expected to be improved to scores of destinations, including Brighton, King's Lynn, Cambridge, Peterborough, Bedford, Luton and Gatwick.
The improved service is due to be fully operational by the end of 2018 and will also include improved staffing and stations, along with a simplified ticket structure.
Rail minister Stephen Hammond said: "A world-class railway is a vital part of our long-term economic plan.
"That's great news for businesses and the hundreds of thousands of passengers who use these vital services every day."
The new franchise, the largest ever in terms of passenger numbers, is a blow to the current Thameslink operator FirstGroup.
Govia presently operates the other rail contract incorporated into the new franchise.
Twenty-four trains will be able to travel between Blackfriars and St Pancras each hour.
New tunnels will also link Peterborough and Cambridge to the existing Thameslink network, boosting access from the North to Gatwick and Brighton.
Govia beat competition from four short-listed bidders - Abellio, FirstGroup, MTR and Stagecoach - to run the key commuter contract from September.
The Go-Ahead Group's partner Keolis is 70% owned by French rail operator SNCF.
After the announcement, FirstGroup CEO Tim O'Toole said: "I am disappointed that we will not be operating the new franchise and taking the Thameslink programme on to its next stage.
"We submitted a strong bid which would have delivered high quality services for passengers, value for taxpayers and an economic return for shareholders."