The DfT is to push ahead with a new franchising programme after digesting Richard Brown’s review – conducted in the wake of the West Coast franchise fiasco.
Bidders will not be reimbursed for cost incurred so far. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin says the DfT will negotiate extensions with First Great Western, First Capital Connect and c2c. Meanwhile the government-owned Directly Operated Railways is making necessary preparations to take over services if terms cannot be agreed.
Says Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, ‘These plans mark an important step on the way to restarting the franchising programme, and while I am determined this should happen as quickly as possible we do need time to get this right. We have had to take some tough decisions regarding franchising, and while they may provide a challenge in the short term, I believe the lessons we have learnt will help deliver a more robust system in the future benefitting fare payers and taxpayers alike.’
The competition for the Essex Thameside franchise will be resumed with a revised invitation to tender for a 15-year franchise issued to existing short-listed bidders. The DfT hopes to extend the c2c contract by two years.
The Great Western franchise competition has been stopped. The current franchise will now run until October – the DfT exercising its contractual right to extend the current contract with First Great Western by 28 weeks. Negotiations for an additional two-year contract will commence shortly. Long term proposals will be revealed in the spring.
The new combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise competition will be resumed. This will be a 7-year contract. The current Thameslink/Great Northern franchise operated by First Capital Connect ends in September but allows for a 28-week extension, which the department intends to exercise. Again the DfT says it will negotiate a two year extension if possible.
Virgin continues to run West Coast through to 2014 and is campaigning hard to retain the franchise.