Below is the text of the statement made by Andrew Jones, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, in the House of Commons on 23 April 2019.

In June 2017, the Department for Transport announced that the shortlisted bidders for the south-eastern franchise competition were: South Eastern Holdings Ltd; London and South East Passenger Rail Services Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Govia and the current incumbent; and Stagecoach South Eastern Trains Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stagecoach Group plc.

Subsequently, in December 2018, the Department exercised an extension with the existing south-eastern operator, London and South Eastern Railway, until 23 June 2019 to allow further time for the competition to identify the next operator for the franchise. The Department is now in the process of negotiating a further direct award which, subject to a successful negotiation, will run until 10 November 2019, with an option to extend the agreement until April 2020. We are taking these steps to ensure continuity of services for passengers. This additional time is necessary to deliver the best possible outcome for passengers and taxpayers alike. We will update the House in the usual way as soon as this work is concluded.