Drive and leadership at the most senior level will be needed to strengthen the DfT and deliver the next round of passenger railway franchising.
In his report on franchising, commissioned by Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, Richard Brown also recommends more local involvement and a simplified structure for evaluating franchise proposals.
Reporting in the wake of the West Coast fiasco Brown argues there is no credible case for major structural change of the current franchising system. Passenger numbers have grown by 92% since privatisation testifying that franchising works well on balance.
However, Brown advises strengthening the DfT so that it can manage future franchising awards effectively. This could
mean bringing in more rail planning specialists and local railway managers to address individual rail operations.
‘The franchising system is not broken, but rather it has made a major contribution to Britain’s increasingly successful rail network. It is therefore essential for both passengers and the wider
rail market that the franchising programme is restarted as soon as possible,’ says Richard.
Plans for three franchises, Essex Thameside, Great Western and Thameslink, (which will be combined with Southern and Great Northern) will be announced in February. Virgin continues to operate West Coast.