Rail (UK)


- Richard Clin­nick Head of News richard.clin­nick@bauer­me­dia.co.uk Business · Department for Transport · United Kingdom Department for Transport · TransPennine Express · East Midlands · South Western Railway · South Western · FirstGroup · Chinese Taipei · MTR Corporation · Greater Anglia · East Midlands Railway · West Midlands Trains

Train op­er­a­tors are con­cerned at the time­frame for fran­chise ter­mi­na­tion agree­ments, but are con­fi­dent pas­sen­gers will re­turn.

TRAIN op­er­a­tors have ex­pressed con­cern over the Govern­ment’s time­frame for agree­ing Di­rect Award con­tracts for op­er­a­tors work­ing un­der Emer­gency Re­cov­ery Mea­sures Agree­ments (ERMAs).

The Depart­ment for Trans­port has ex­tended the dead­line (from De­cem­ber 13 to Jan­uary 29) for the sub­mis­sion of ma­te­rial re­lat­ing to fran­chise ter­mi­na­tion for nine op­er­a­tors that are due to trans­fer to Di­rect Awards.

After Jan­uary 29, com­pa­nies have seven work­ing days to agree to the set­tle­ments pro­posed by Govern­ment. If they don’t, then the op­er­a­tor re­turns to the orig­i­nal fran­chise agree­ment. The first three ERMAs (c2c, South West­ern Rail­way and Tran­sPen­nine Ex­press) are due to ex­pire on March 31.

ERMAs were in­tro­duced from Septem­ber 20, ef­fec­tively killing fran­chis­ing ( RAIL 915). This fol­lowed the Emer­gency Mea­sures Agree­ment (EMAs) in­tro­duced in March, dur­ing the first lock­down, when pas­sen­ger num­bers dropped to 5% of pre-pan­demic lev­els.

FirstGroup op­er­ates TPE and is a 70/30 ma­jor­ity part­ner (with MTR) in SWR. First Rail Manag­ing Direc­tor Steve Mont­gomery told MPs at the Trans­port Select Com­mit­tee on Novem­ber 18: “I have not ex­pe­ri­enced one [Di­rect Award] be­ing de­liv­ered that quickly. It is some­thing we have to work ex­tremely hard with the Depart­ment on, to try to pull some­thing to­gether if we are to meet the dead­line of March 31. There is a cer­tain ex­ten­sion pe­riod that the Depart­ment can call upon, should we be run­ning be­hind.”

That ex­ten­sion is up to seven four-week pe­ri­ods. A source told

RAIL they ex­pect the ex­ten­sions to be used.

Abel­lio Group MD Do­minic

Booth told the TSC: “We are work­ing on the ter­mi­na­tion process for the old fran­chises.

Our three [Greater Anglia, East Mid­lands Rail­way and West Mid­lands Trains] are in Septem­ber 2021 and the end of March 2022,

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