TSSA calls on Shapps to investigate other franchises after Southeastern scandal

Southeastern train at platform, Penge East station

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has written to Grant Shapps calling on the Department for Transport to investigate the accounts of all other rail franchises, particularly GTR (Govia Thameslink Railway).

This follows the announcement (Tuesday 28 September) that the Government is taking over operations at London and Southeastern Railway (LSER) from 17 October, following an investigation which identified over £25million of taxpayer money was not declared by LSER.

In his letter to the Transport Secretary, Cortes points out that GTR, like Southeastern, is run by Govia, describing what happened at Southeastern as ‘nothing short of a major scandal’.

The union leader goes on to say that ‘due diligence, transparency and public confidence demands that the Department for Transport urgently examines the accounts at GTR and all other franchises’.

The full text of the letter from Manuel Cortes to Grant Shapps follows below.

 Grant Shapps

Transport Secretary

Great Minster House

33 Horseferry Road London SW1P 4DR

Wednesday 29th September 2021

Dear Grant

I’m writing to you about the abrupt end to the Southeastern/London and South Eastern Railway (LSER) franchise and further concerns our union has relating to the parent company - Govia.

I’m sure you will agree that what has happened at Southeastern is nothing short of a major scandal. Lessons need to be learned, but the travelling public will also rightly demand answers as to how £25 million of public funding seemingly went undeclared, amounting to a significant breach of the franchise agreement.

As you will know, Govia continues to run another franchise – namely GTR.

I’m writing to ask whether you will be carrying out investigations into the accounts relating to all franchises and in particular, the other one held by Govia. Due diligence, transparency and public confidence demands that the Department for Transport does this with some haste.

I have not the slightest doubt that, just like our union, you will wish to make sure that every single penny of public money is accounted for across the board in every franchise.

There have been claims and media reports that the Serious Fraud Office is now involved in this debacle. Fraud has no place in the public sphere, and I urge you to act without delay.

Yours sincerely

Manuel Cortes,

TSSA General Secretary