DfT franchise announcement – Passenger Focus response

31 January 2013

The government has today announced its plans for three rail franchises (Great Western, Essex Thameside and Thameslink/Southern/Great Northern) which were put on hold last October.

The Department for Transport will now commence negotiations with current operators, First Great Western, First Capital Connect and c2c, to negotiate new short-term franchises while longer-term options can be explored.

Commenting on the decision, Anthony Smith, Chief Executive Passenger Focus said: “Today’s announcement will bring some welcome stability for passengers. It will be important that the short-term extensions for the First Great Western, c2c and First Capital Connect franchises contain genuine improvements for passengers rather than simply postpone delivery until the next franchise negotiation – passengers must not suffer as a result of the pause in the franchising programme.”

“Passenger Focus also wants the franchise process to pay greater attention to what passengers actually want. The recent Brown review of franchising agreed and recommended that service quality play a greater part in deciding who wins a franchise, and that passenger satisfaction be used more to measure actual performance. The passenger voice must be at the heart of franchising.”

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