The government has now published the Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the next South Western rail franchise.
This sets out the government's plans for significant improvements for passengers using South Western rail services, including enhancements to the train service and ambitious plans for modern ticketing.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: "The companies bidding for the opportunity to take over the franchise will have to demonstrate how they will meet, and go above and beyond, these requirements, so that passengers are put at the heart of the South Western franchise.
"Alongside the ITT I have also published a Stakeholder Briefing Document, which provides a summary of the 650 responses to the public consultation which ran from November 2015 to February 2016. It also explains how we have reflected the consultation comments in the franchise specification."
The minimum specified improvements include:
1) at least 95 additional services per day Monday to Friday from December 2018;
2) earlier first and later last trains on many routes from December 2018;
3) an increase of 20% in capacity at peak time from December 2020;
4) faster journey times on at least 70% of all services from December 2020;
5) improved fares and ticketing experience, including introducing smart ticketing, and developing new tickets for commuters who work part-time;
6) new swift and simple delay repay compensation arrangements;
7) improved punctuality and fewer cancellations;
8) increased passenger satisfaction
Steve Brine, who has worked hard on improving our rail service over the past six years, said: "These are a very welcome list of demands from government, and it has been made clear to bidders that these are the bare minimum standards expected. We expect bidders to offer more than this, and only ambitious and excellent bids have the chance to succeed.
"I am also delighted to see that my two campaigns, for part-time season tickets and smart-ticketing, are central planks to this, as these are manifesto commitments that I won and we are now seeing progress."
Bidders now have until September this year to submit their bids. The Department for Trnasport will then evaluate these and expects to announce the preferred bidder in February 2017, with the new franchise planned to start in June 2017.
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