Southern Rail franchise will not be scrapped, says Government

RBI claims a number of options are being explored

Southern Rail has been blighted by repeated strikes over the past year

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Southern Rail franchise will not be scrapped despite earlier reports, days the Government.

An earlier report by Rail Business Intelligence had claimed that the Government was planning to abort the current agreement and possibly take direct control of the contact from Govia Thameslink Railway.

However a spokesman for the Department for Transport has told talkRADIO this is categorically untrue, describing the report as mere "speculation."

RBI had said that Govia Thameslink, which operates the Southern franchise on behalf of the Department for Transport, is in default of its contract, with performance falling below targets set in the remedial plan agreed with DfT."

RBI also claims it is "aware of a number of options being prepared by DfT. These range from splitting off the Southern service group to a complete ‘managed exit’, whereby DfT would take direct control of the entire Thameslink, Southern & Great Northern franchise until a new contract could be let.

“Development of the latter option has progressed to the point where the plan has its own codename and a potential Interim Managing Director has been identified.”

Southern has been blighted by repeated strikes over recent months, centring on plans to introduce driver-only operated trains and thus remove the guards. Both Aslef, which represents train drivers, and the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, which represents the guards, have been staging walkouts since last February.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Instead of dragging this farce out any longer the Government should now do the decent thing, pull the plug on the GTR contract, take the lines under public control and draw a line under this shambles that shames Britain’s railways. As part of that process they should get round the table with the union and reach a genuine and lasting negotiated settlement to the on-going guards safety dispute.

“RBI are the respected voice of the industry when it comes to insider knowledge and their claims today make sense to anyone who has tracked the Southern/GTR fiasco. Chris Grayling should stop pussy-footing about, get his act together and get Southern/GTR off the tracks before more damage is done.”