(Reuters) The Department for Transport (DfT) on Wednesday announced the shortlist of four bidders for the operation of the South Central rail franchise, which included National Express (NEX.L)'s NXSC Trains and Stagecoach's (SGC.L) Southern Trains.
The other two shortlisted bidders are Dutch Railways' NedRailways South Central and Govia's Southern Railway. Govia is a joint venture between Go-Ahead Plc (GOG.L) and France's Keolis SA.
The South Central franchise is a new franchise covering services in the south east of England, including the Gatwick Express.
The winner of the bid will also help with the East London Line Extension from 2010 and the 5.5 billion pounds Thameslink Programme, said the DfT, both of which will provide a significant increase in capacity in London.
The new franchise will start in September 2009 and will expire in July 2015, with the final year dependent on achieving acceptable performance levels.
(Reporting by Man Ranjith Ullattil in Bangalore; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)