James Brokenshire has commenced a round of meetings with each of the train companies who may bid to take over the running of Southeastern Train services to press for significant improvements. The current contract to run local train services comes to an end next year and a formal invitation to tender is expected to be published by the Department for Transport shortly.
In addition to Govia, the existing operator, four companies have expressed an interest in bidding for the new contract from December 2018. Stagecoach, Trenitalia, Arriva and Abellio have all said that they are considering potential plans for the franchise award.
Given the need for urgent improvements that will allow passengers greater certainty when travelling, more reliable services and more rolling stock to improve capacity. James is meeting the teams designing the bids to make sure that they reflect the concerns of local rail passengers in their tenders, including:
- Better overall performance and reliability
- More rolling stock to ease capacity issues at peak times
- The continued provision of services into London Charing Cross, Cannon Street AND Victoria
- The possibility of a new London terminus at Blackfriars
- Improved customer service
- A better compensation system, that is fairer and both easier and quicker to use
Commenting after the first meeting last Friday, James said:
“There is no doubt that passengers want to see urgent improvements to local train services with more reliable and comfortable travel. I am keen to impress upon those looking to take over the franchise the key issues of concern so that we can secure the changes on the Southeastern network which passengers have been calling for.”