Passenger Focus response to DfT franchise announcement

26 March 2013

This morning the Department for Transport outlined its plans for rail franchising and an eight-year timetable for renewing the franchises.

Passengers waiting for trains today will feel the impact of these franchising decisions for years to come. It is crucial that passenger needs and expectations are at the heart of what government buys on their behalf. Today’s announcement is an important first step towards delivering long-term stability for passengers, and much-needed and delayed investment.

The commitment to re-building passengers’ views into the heart of the process is welcome. Also giving passengers an enhanced role in deciding whether a new operator can get a franchise extension is good news. Passengers are now putting two pounds into the railway for every pound of taxpayer subsidy – so their voice should be amplified.

However, given the length of some potential current contract extensions, it is also crucial that effective passenger consultation and input takes place in this process. Some of these decisions will affect the daily journeys of passengers for a long time.

Chief executive Anthony Smith said: “The time for passenger power has come. For too long passengers have been the passive recipients of major decisions made on their behalf behind closed doors. The voice of the user – and main funder – of the railways should be radically boosted in a process that needs to be opened up to scrutiny. We are going to work with Government to make this a reality.”

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For media enquiries, please contact Sara Nelson, head of communications, on 0300 123 0820 / 07918 626 125.


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