The UK Department for Transport (DfT) has launched a ten-week public consultation, which will help shape targets for the next South Eastern rail franchise.

The consultation will give passengers and local councils an opportunity to put forward their views on how the South Eastern line can deliver improved services to the increased numbers of passengers expected to use the railway in south-east London, Kent, the Medway towns and East Sussex in the next 30 years.

UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Passengers on a new South Eastern franchise from 2018 will enjoy modern trains with more space and a more punctual and reliable service.

“This consultation sets out what we expect the next operator to deliver for passengers, including working more closely with Network Rail to ensure a focus on performance, and innovative use of technology to improve both ticket buying and compensation if things do go wrong.”

"Passengers on a new South Eastern franchise from 2018 will enjoy modern trains with more space and a more punctual and reliable service."

The consultation is set to close on 23 May this year.

Upon selection, the new operator will have to run longer trains and upgrade or replace older trains.

The DfT aims to introduce a smarter payment system, including mobile phones and improve compensations arrangements with a simple automated system.

The operator will also be responsible for improving customer service, with staff able to respond quickly and effectively to passenger’s needs.

Currently, South Eastern handles 640,000 passenger journeys on 1,900 train services every weekday.