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Teenagers score free travel with Govia Thameslink Railway

Press release   •   Sep 11, 2017 15:03 BST

On the ball: (from left) Harry Draper, Charlie Milton, Paula Hilliard, Jack Morrell and Sam Willis

Six youths have scored free travel for their sports education in London thanks to train operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).

The youngsters, from Flitwick, Sandy and Stevenage, were struggling to afford the travel needed for their BTEC in Sports with Pro Direct Academy. Employee Engagement Manager Paula Hilliard at GTR, which runs Great Northern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Southern services, was delighted to be able to help out.

Head of Coaching Tom Hart explained: “Without the free travel the lads would have been left without the opportunity to continue their studies and education. Without the support of GTR they would have had no chance of working with us to complete this qualification. We really appreciate the efforts of Paula and the team at GTR to help them fulfil their full potential.”

Paula, who organises GTR's 'Get Into Railway' programmes for disadvantaged individuals aged between 18 and 25, with charity the Prince's Trust, added: “It’s such an honour to help these young men continue their studies and support them with this chance to improve their lives.

“We do a lot at GTR to help young people transform their lives and I love the work we do with all 60 of those who join us on our Prince's Trust development programme. It's so wonderful to have the chance for us to make a difference to someone's life. I look forward to hearing about how they progress and improve in the coming terms.”

Charlie Milton, aged 16 from Flitwick, said: “Thank you very much to everyone at GTR for our pass. We are all very grateful.”

Jack Morrell, also 16, who travels from Stevenage along with Jack Thomas, Harry Draper and Gage Deutsch, added: “Thanks to Paula for making my journey so much easier. I am so grateful for what you have given me the chance to achieve.”

Sam Willis is the sixth youngster, who travels in from Sandy and, like all the others, heads for London and the sports academy in Islington.


Govia Thameslink Railway

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express services as follows:

  • Thameslink – services between Bedford and Brighton, Luton/St Albans and Sutton, Wimbledon and Sevenoaks
  • Great Northern – services between London and Welwyn, Hertford, Peterborough, Cambridge and King’s Lynn
  • Southern – services between London and the Sussex coast (Brighton, Worthing, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Hastings) and parts of Surrey, Kent and Hampshire (Ashford International, Southampton, Portsmouth)
  • Gatwick Express – fast, non-stop direct services between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria

GTR is the largest rail franchise in the UK in terms of passenger numbers, trains, revenue and staff: GTR carries about 326 million passenger journeys per year, and employs around 6,500 people. Its aim is to improve services across all four networks.

Ticket revenue is passed to the government which pays GTR a fee to operate the franchise which is adjusted according to how well the train service is performing.

Southern has the highest passenger growth in the UK with numbers into London having doubled in 12 years - compared with the industry doubling over the past 20 years. To meet this growth and to future-proof the network, GTR is modernising the rail service for passengers.

GTR has introduced more new trains in the past year than all other franchises put together, with 500 new carriages so far.

The transformative £7bn Thameslink Programme will bring hundreds more daily services from 2018, increasing the number of trains though the central London core from up to 15 to 24 trains per hour. Network Rail has also launched a £300m programme to improve resilience across the GTR network

GTR is modernising how it works, with new technology in use at our stations and on our trains, smartcard ticketing and a new, flexible on-board role on many Southern services. This ensures fewer cancellations, and with more staff on board our trains now than ever before, passengers are enjoying a much better level of on-board customer service.

The GTR investment programme for stations includes funding for more CCTV, toilet refurbishments, new retail facilities, help points and car park improvements – as well as plans for increased motorcycle storage and improved transport integration.,,,