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TSSA welcomes government rail franchise takeover

23 March 2020

The Government has today (Monday) announced that all rail franchises will be taken over by the government for "at least" six months under Emergency Measures Agreements which will mean public ownership in all but name to keep our railways moving.

This move follows confirmation last week that rail workers would be considered key workers during the coronavirus pandemic. A reduced timetable is in place from today (Monday) and the travel advice at time of writing is that only essential journeys – eg key workers such as medical staff to get to work – should be undertaken. Any advance tickets will be refunded in this period and people are being asked to stay at home.

The Department for Transport will temporarily suspend normal franchise agreements and transfer all revenue and cost risk to the government for a limited period, initially six months. Operators will continue to run services day-to-day for a small predetermined management fee.

Commenting, TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes said: “We welcome this move but it’s sad that it has taken a pandemic for the government to take control of our railways.

“I am immensely proud of the efforts of our members and all across the transport industry in keeping our network open for key workers and for moving freight around the country.

“Today is not the day to score political points, but I can only hope that at the end of the emergency period the government reflects on whether allowing private companies - predominantly the state owned railway companies of our European neighbours - to make profits at the expense of British passengers and taxpayers, should continue.”


The railways have already seen up to a 70% drop in passenger numbers. Rail fares revenue has also reduced as people increasingly work from home and adopt social distancing, with total ticket sales down by two-thirds from the equivalent date in 2019.

Department for Transport-let franchises include:
Chiltern Railways
CrossCountry
Greater Anglia
East Midlands Railway
Great Western Railway
South Eastern
South Western Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway (including Southern and Great Northern)
Transpennine Express
West Coast Partnership
West Midlands Trains
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