Minister admits Southeastern delay
Rail Minister Andrew Jones admitted on November 27 to further delays in announcing who has won the right to operate the next Southeastern franchise.
He told a Westminster Hall debate that the announcement would now come in the new year, adding: “The reason for the delay is that the evaluation of the agreement for the next franchise has taken longer than anticipated because we wanted to ensure that passengers get the best deal possible.”
When the Department for Transport invited Abellio, Stagecoach and incumbent Govia to bid for the franchise last November, it said the winner would start running trains on April 1 2019.
It invited Trenitalia to bid, but the company dropped out to concentrate on its West Coast bid with First, which was submitted last summer.
Since bidding, Govia’s GTR chief executive quit following the collapse of Thameslink services last May, Stagecoach handed back its Virgin Trains East Coast franchise following financial problems, and Abellio has been drawing down parent company support for its East Anglian operation.