Southern Railway is an old and well-established railway company dating back to 1923. After nationalisation of the railways under British Rail ended in the 1990s, the franchise became privatised again. The current owners are the Go-Ahead Group, a partnership between Govia and Keolis. Train services were operated under the franchise name of South Central in 2001, which was renamed Southern in 2004 after being purchased by Govia. Southern took over services for Gatwick Express in 2008, and extended services to run more frequently to and from Brighton. Govia will continue to run the South Central franchise until July 2015.
With around 446,500 journeys a day, Southern makes a total of around 160 million passenger journeys annually. Services operated by Southern provide customers with connections in London, East and West Sussex, Surrey, Kent, and Hampshire. Popular destinations include Hastings, Lewes, and Southampton. Southern also manages the Gatwick Express which is a 30 minute, non-stop connection from London Victoria to Gatwick International Airport. Customers also have the option of linking their Southern rail tickets with other modes of transport to Oyster cards, Eurostar, airports, and ferries.
A fleet of around 300 electric trains make the thousands of connections Southern offers everyday. All trains have accommodations for wheelchair users, ramps, priority seating, and audible and visual information. Southern trains offer a trolley service with hot drinks and light refreshments, which is available for all or part of the journey on selected routes. First Class travel offers greater access to power points on the train, more comfortable seating, and a choice of complimentary refreshments including tea, fair-trade coffee and refreshing mineral water.
Southern Railway offers different kinds of tickets, from common Advance, Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak, to season offers and group tickets. First Class tickets are available on some services, and the Weekend First Upgrade option allows travellers to upgrade standard tickets to First Class on weekends and Bank Holidays for £5 each way. When planning a journey in advance, one of the best options is the Advance ticket which can offer the most valuable price. Choosing an Advanced ticket for specific Southern train times usually offers a cheaper price than Anytime tickets, which offer more flexibility in terms of the time of travel. DaySave tickets are a good option for passengers planning on making several journeys over the course of the same day.