Southeastern franchise Direct Award – Passenger Focus submission to the Department for Transport
29 October 2013
The existing Southeastern franchise has run for a considerable time, during which there have been some highs, and a number of lows, from a passenger and stakeholder perspective. The Direct Award itself will run for a period of nearly four years, making this amongst the longest franchise contracts to be negotiated through a single tender arrangement.
It is imperative that the Direct Award builds customer trust and confidence. It can only do this if it includes mechanisms to deliver real passenger benefits, unlock investment and provide firm foundations on which the next franchise can build.
Passenger Focus has already published a detailed submission in response to the 2012 consultation on the previously scheduled franchise renewal . This drew on bespoke research with 2420 passengers using Southeastern services, analysis of National Passenger Survey results and other studies into issues important to users of rail services.
Many of the recommendations we made for the new franchise are equally valid for the period of the Direct Award. The key points from our submission are summarised in Appendix One and we urge that these are fully considered in development of the specification for the franchise operation between 2014 and 2018.
An important hallmark of the Direct Award will be to make demonstrable progress on key issues during the four years preceding the new franchise, whilst also undertaking the relevant planning and preparatory work to optimise the opportunities to deliver significant early benefits in the new contract.