The Network SouthCentral Franchise
(1994 - 1996)


Much has been said and written about rail privatisation in Britain over the past few years. What is often ignored though is the fact that the entire debate was launched by politicians and as such hardly ever was a true discussion of transport facts but rather a debate on political credos. In this context, BR stood no chance of winning, as the same people who had drained the cashflow into public transport for decades started leashing out and accusing the system of inefficiency (true in some cases, but not in others - witness NSE for example).
In June 1993 BR's Board announced the abolition of its business sectors (including NSE), coming into effect as of April 1st 1994. This decision was a part of several organisational changes keyed towards privatisation, and on November 4th 1993 the Railways Privatisation Bill was passed by Parliament.

In preparation for privatisation, Network SouthEast was split into 11 separate businesses on April 1st 1994, and between 1995 and 1997 these new businesses were sold off as franchises to the preferred bidder. What had been the NSE South London Lines thus became the Network SouthCentral Franchise.

Almost the only sign of the coming changes to be seen on the Epsom Downs branch was the rolling stock, though one did at times have to look twice to see whether the brandings on the EMUs were NSE or NSC...

Another small indication that things were changing were the posters put up at the stations on the line, although the NSC leaflet shown here - picked up at Sutton in April 1995 - nicely illustrates the sort of identity crisis NSC had: Whilst the logo of the advert is NSC, the Network Card illustrated actually displays the branding Network SouthEast...

Train services, on the other hand, remained untouched on the branch, the only novelty of the 1994/95 timetable therefore being the NSC branding.

(click for full timetable)

The Network South Central franchise was awarded to Connex Rail Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the CGEA Group, for a period of 7 years, starting on May 26th 1996. As of that date, the company operating the Epsom Downs branchline would now be called Connex South Central.


NSC branding on a Cl 455 at Banstead in December 1997 - the NSC franchise had already been won by Connex Rail at that time and thus itself become a part of British railway history.
(Adrian Wymann)

(click for full size image)



Continue to Privatisation II: Connex South Central (1996-2001)

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Page last updated on 8th August 2012