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Southeastern Direct Award

20 May 2014

TSSA and the other rail trade unions met the Department for Transport (DfT) recently regarding the Direct Award for the Southeastern franchise.

 

This involves the DfT negotiating with Govia extending the franchise by seven periods - from October 2014 through to 2017 - with no tenders from any other operator. This was the first time DfT representatives had met the rail unions in such circumstances.

The Direct Award Process was being implemented for two reasons. Firstly, the severe disruption to train services at London Bridge during the rebuilding of the station. Secondly, arising from the review of the franchise procedure following the West Coast mainline franchise, letting franchises due for renewal were delayed and the DfT decided to limit the number of franchise bids at any one time. They explained that, under the Direct Award process, no agreements had yet been reached with Southeastern.

This contract will be specific to the timetable of trains through London Bridge and there will be no revenue support from the Government during the contract period. There will be an expectation to increase both revenue and off peak travel, with the Government looking for value for money in the contract. The DfT will enforce any contractual agreements covered by the Direct Award. They expect gatelines to be staffed as means of achieving this, and are aiming to reduce ticketless travel by 4%. They made it clear there were no proposals in the contract to reduce ticket office opening times, to increase Driver Only Operation or any extension of Smart Card purchase of rail tickets.

TSSA policy is for all the rail franchises to be publically owned. We are, nonetheless, concerned that this extension could be awarded without using a competitive process. If, however, after the period of negotiation between the DfT and Southeastern no agreement is reached, then the contract will be given to Directly Operated Railways which is publically owned and currently running the East Coast Mainline very successfully.

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