The government takes over the management of services in the south-east
The government will resume operating services from rail operator Southeastern after a “serious breach” of its franchise agreement.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said an investigation by his department identified evidence that since October 2014 the company had not declared more than £ 25million in historic public funds that should have been returned .
More investigations are ongoing and the government has said it will consider options for more action, including financial sanctions.
Mr Shapps said: “There is clear, compelling and serious evidence that LSER has violated the trust which is absolutely fundamental to the success of our railways. When trust is broken, we will act decisively.
“The decision to take over the services is a clear signal that we will accept nothing less from the private sector than a full commitment to their passengers and absolute transparency with the support of taxpayers.
“Under the new operator, we will prioritize the punctual and reliable services that passengers deserve, restore confidence in this network and implement the reforms set out in our Plan for Rail – to build a modern railway that meets the needs of a nation. “
Southeastern is managed by Govia and operates services throughout the South East of England, covering London, Kent, East Sussex and 1 high speed lines.
Manuel Cortes, Secretary General of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association said: “The days of rail franchising must now be well and truly over. Time and time again we see the private sector fail and taxpayers come to the rescue.
“We need the government to get rid of the broken franchise system, end the profits of the railroad companies and take over the whole, lock the stock and the rails.
“There is no time to wait for the half-baked Williams-Shapps plan to be implemented, or the so-called British Railways pie in the sky of this Conservative government.
“Our union will now seek assurances that this mess does not affect the jobs of our members, as many of them have been true heroes on the front lines of the pandemic from day one.
“Passengers in the South East and across our rail network need services they can trust and a rail that works for them, rather than private profit. “
Mick Lynch, general secretary of the rail, shipping and transport union, said: “This latest public sector bailout of a private rail service should put an end once and for all to the risky and costly absurdity of privatization. of the rail.
“This collapse appears to be due to Govia playing swiftly and freely with its financial commitments and raising serious questions about the viability of its other operations, including the busy Thameslink services.
“It’s time to get the rest of Britain’s failing private rail operations out of their misery, cut out the middlemen and build a public railway fit for a post-Covid green future.”
The government will take over the management of services in the south-east from October 17, claiming that a serious breach of the obligation of “good faith” of the franchise contract in financial matters has been identified,
The ministers stressed that the announcement would have no impact on frontline staff, who they say have been on the front lines providing services throughout the Covid pandemic.
“The decision does not reflect their professionalism and dedication and will not affect jobs,” the Ministry of Transportation said.
A brief statement on Southeastern’s website said: “Our passengers will not see any change in our day-to-day operations.
“All tickets will remain valid after the transfer and new tickets can continue to be purchased in the usual way.”