TypeLimited company
IndustryPublic transport
FoundedNovember 1996
HeadquartersNewcastle upon Tyne
Area served
United Kingdom
ProductsTrain services
OwnerGo-Ahead Group (65%)
Keolis (35%)

Govia[1] is a transport company based in the United Kingdom. It was formed in November 1996 as a joint venture between Go-Ahead Group (65%) and Keolis (35%) to bid for rail franchises during the privatisation of British Rail.


Southern Class 377 at Battersea Park station in June 2010
Southeastern Class 395 Javelin at St Pancras in August 2012
Thameslink Class 319 at St Albans station in November 2014

Established in 1986, the Go-Ahead Group has its roots in North East England where it was formed as Go-Ahead Northern during the de-regulation of the bus industry. Keolis is the biggest private operator of public transport in France and a major worldwide operator of transport services.

As part of the privatisation of British Rail, the Thames Trains franchise was awarded to Victory Rail Holdings,[2] a company owned by Go-Ahead (65%) and some ex British Rail managers (35%), with operations commencing on 13 October 1996.[3] Go-Ahead bought the remaining shares it did not own in June 1998.[4]

Go-Ahead formed a joint venture with Keolis and were awarded the Thameslink franchise with operations commencing on 2 March 1997. Upon being retendered, the franchise passed to First Capital Connect on 1 April 2006. Govia also unsuccessfully bid for the Regional Railways North West and ScotRail franchises.

In August 2001, Govia commenced operating the South Central franchise adopting the name Southern.[5][6] In April 2006, Southeastern operated the South Eastern franchise. In November 2007, Govia commenced operating the London Midland franchise and in May 2014, the Govia Thameslink Railway franchise.[7][8] Govia unsuccessfully bid for the Northern and TransPennine Express franchises in 2015.[9]

Current operations

Govia currently operate one franchise:[10]

Previous operations

London Midland Class 350 at Kidsgrove station in June 2015

Govia previously ran rail franchises through the following companies:

Other operations

The partners have also bid for other franchises separately. Keolis held a 45% shareholding in former train operating company First TransPennine Express since February 2004. In 2012, it bid for the InterCity West Coast franchise in partnership with SNCF. Go-Ahead bid for the Greater Anglia franchise.[18]

The partners also lodged an unsuccessful bid for the TransPennine Express franchise in 2015, but this was not being done through Govia, with Keolis holding a majority shareholding.[9]


  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 3278419 Govia Limited
  2. ^ Companies House extract company no 3147927 Victory Rail Holdings Limited
  3. ^ Go-Ahead annual report 1997 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc 28 June 1997
  4. ^ Go-Ahead annual report 1998 Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead Group plc 27 June 1998
  5. ^ Retention of South Central franchise Archived 23 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine Go-Ahead 9 June 2009
  6. ^ More frequent and more secure rail services for London and the South East Archived 19 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine Department for Transport 9 June 2009
  7. ^ About Us Govia
  8. ^ Govia wins Thameslink rail franchise BBC News 23 May 2014
  9. ^ a b Shortlist for Northern and Transpennine Express rail operators revealed Department for Transport 19 August 2014
  10. ^ Our Companies Govia
  11. ^ Companies House extract company no 7934306 Govia Thameslink Railway Limited
  12. ^ "National Rail Contract awarded to Govia Thameslink Railway". Go Ahead News. Retrieved 15 October 2022.
  13. ^ Department for Transport Announces Winner of Thameslink/GN Franchise Department for Transport Press Release 13 December 2005
  14. ^ Companies House extract company no 6574965 Southern Railway Limited
  15. ^ Companies House extract company no 4860660 London & South Eastern Railway Limited
  16. ^ "Southeastern stripped of franchise over undeclared funding". 28 September 2021. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  17. ^ Companies House extract company no 5814584 London & Birmingham Railway Limited
  18. ^ Shortlisted Bidders For Greater Anglia And Intercity West Coast Rail Franchises Archived 2013-06-06 at the Wayback Machine Department for Transport 24 March 2011