One of the bidders for the next Southeastern franchise is holding urgent talks with the Government after getting its numbers wrong at another franchise.
Abellio, who operate Greater Anglia, are in discussions to change the funding formula on the network serving East London and East Anglia.
Abellio is owned by Dutch national railways. It is the least scandal hit of three companies bidding for the next Southeastern franchise – which has been delayed continuously since 2012 hitting investment in the network.
The other two bidders are incumbent GoVia, who were in charge of the calamitous Thameslink timetable introduction in May which is still not operating anywhere near levels expected. They trained insufficient drivers on routes such as Luton to Rainham via Greenwich and Woolwich.
The other bidder is Stagecoach, who had a 90% stake in Virgin East Coast (Virgin group had just 10% and was mainly for naming rights) which failed this year, with similar issues to Greater Anglia in terms of growth undershooting expectations.
Despite Abellio denying this, there are parallels in terms of passengers number growth not meeting very ambitious targets. They differ in that Greater Anglia is heavily based on central London commuters whilst Virgin East Coast was an intercity operator.
The DfT also have questions over their role in many of these issues. They were making mistakes long before 2015, but in that year George Osborne (now editor of the Evening Standard) hit them with the heaviest cuts of any Government department at 37%. It was the same year he also cut £700 million in annual funding to TfL.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling blocked transferring London Metro suburban services to TfL and reneged on an agreement made by his predecessor.
Franchises problems with the DfT have continued since then, with Southeastern struggling to attract bids. A review of the system has been imposed and the next franchise for Cross Country halted, yet Southeastern (so far) has continued, albeit with constant delays.
The review of the franchise network has already been panned by some industry experts, who claim it doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of problems.