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One of Britain's least-loved rail franchises 'to be scrapped'

Commuters were celebrating today after ministers promised to scrap one of Britain's biggest and least-loved rail franchises.

The move will spell the end of Govia Thameslink Railway after more than 18 months of misery caused by strikes and staff shortages.

GTR services under the Southern brand have been hit by a long-running dispute over the role of guards.

Some commuters on lines into Victoria were forced to give up their jobs because delays and cancellations made the service unreliable.

Timetables were also badly disrupted by a major project to revamp busy London Bridge station.

Ministers were criticised for creating an unmanageable franchise when they merged Southern, Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Great Northern in 2015.

The Department for Transport today effectively admitted defeat when it announced the franchise would be spit up in 2021.

Rail passengers deserve a more reliable, more efficient service and I will deliver it by ending the one-size-fits-all approach of franchising and bringing closer together the best of the public and private sector.

– CHRIS GRAYLING MP, TRANSPORT SECRETARY

Rail union RMT described the announcement as a 'massive admission of failure' by the government.

RMT will fight any plans for more privatisation and fragmentation on Britain's railways and will step up the campaign for public ownership and control.

– MICK CASH, RMT GENERAL SECRETARY

GTR was created to deliver a large-scale, once-in-a-generation modernisation project and it was always understood that at the end of the franchise in 2021 an alternative model would be introduced.

By joining together four rail routes under one company, we have been able to fast-track the huge amount of work needed to upgrade the most congested part of the UK rail network.

– Govia Thameslink Railway