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Delays mar new rail franchise start

Passengers travelled on a new mega rail franchise today - but faced the old problem of delays.

And one irate passenger took his frustration out on Rail Minister Claire Perry as she helped launch the new franchise at Blackfriars station in London.

Covering routes both north and south of London, the franchise - the biggest on the network - is run by Govia and is called Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN).

On the franchise's first working day today, a broken-down train at Moorgate station in London caused delays and there was disruption throughout the morning rush-hour due to a signalling problem at London Bridge.

Thameslink services towards East Croydon were not able to call at London Bridge but called additionally at Elephant and Castle.

On Twitter, passengers seemed unimpressed with the new franchise, whose beginning signals the end of the old First Capital Connect franchise.ees tje . for London Underground connections

Stephen Grant tweeted: " Stood at @HassocksStation and it appears First Capital Connect have reverted to Thameslink to make their cancellation announcements quicker."

Another tweet, from a Gareth, read: " First day traveling with govia thameslink. Bad delays. Yay for the new franchise. Same as the old franchise."

Carl Loben tweeted: First Capital Connect - from Brighton to Bedford - have been sold to Govia, rebranded as Thameslink. They're still s**t."

At Blackfriars, Ms Perry talked to passengers. One, a suited gentleman in his 30s, could be seen complaining to her about rail services.

Ms Perry said: "The new TSGN franchise will be at the forefront of the massive investment we are making in the rail network in London and the South East. Passengers can look forward to new trains, more seats, improved stations and better services, and today marks the very start of that journey.

"This is all part of our plan to support economic growth by building a world-class rail network fit for the 21st century."

Rail unions RMT and Aslef say the Government has awarded Govia the franchise "on the basis of cutting station staffing and closing ticket offices".

The two unions held a protest at Blackfriars today.

Last week, amid some criticism, Govia was given an extension to 2018 on its Southeastern franchise. Announcing this, Ms Perry said: "I know passengers on this route haven't always received the service that they deserve."

Labour and rail unions denounced the deal, with the Campaign For Better Transport saying Southeastern had "more dissatisfied passengers than anywhere else on the network".

Govia also runs the London Midland franchise.

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