Government takes control of Southeastern rail franchise
Grant Shapps: protection
All services operated by train operator Southeastern are being taken over by the Government after a “serious breach” of its franchise agreement.
Southeastern is run by Govia and operates services across south-east England, covering London, Kent, East Sussex and the High Speed 1 Lines.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement this morning that an investigation by his department identified evidence of £25m of undeclared taxpayer funding which should have been returned.
“To protect taxpayers’ interests and passengers I have ordered the Operator of Last Resort to urgently take over the running of rail services in the South East,” he said.
“Over £25m of historic payments due to the Department were not declared – a significant breach of the franchise agreement. We won’t accept anything less from the private sector than a total commitment to their passengers, and transparency with taxpayers.”
Further investigations are being conducted and the Government said it will consider options for more action, including financial penalties.
Govia is a joint venture between transport operators Go-Ahead, with 65% control, and Keolis which holds the rest.
There are 4,000 workers and more than 2,000 services on weekdays..
Mr Shapps said: “There is clear, compelling and serious evidence that LSER have breached the trust that is absolutely fundamental to the success of our railways. When trust is broken, we will act decisively.
“The decision to take control of services makes unequivocally clear that we will not accept anything less from the private sector than a total commitment to their passengers and absolute transparency with taxpayer support.
“Under the new operator, we will prioritise the punctual, reliable services passengers deserve, rebuild trust in this network, and the delivery of the reforms set out in our Plan for Rail – to build a modern railway that meets the needs of a nation.”