Another Southeastern franchise bidder in trouble

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.

Bubbled flooring on tired interior on 25 year old trains

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.

Current conditions leave much to be desire

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.


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I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

6 thoughts on “Another Southeastern franchise bidder in trouble

  • They’ll walk away if no resolution. Then improvements cut back. Whole model is a mess.

  • Oh yes. Total mess. Incompetence of a scale only surpassed, and for many more years, by the Home Office. Then we had the failure of Railtrack. It was obvious from day 1 that Network Rail’s borrowing should have been included in the PSBR, but whilst it wasn’t they hit the credit card for all it was worth. I’m convinced that was a significant contributor to today’s crazy infrastructure enhancement costs. The only hope for London’s commuter rail network is that the economy bombs after Brexit and the number of jobs in what is, for now, still one of the world’s greatest 3 cities drops significantly….

  • Murky – your talents are being wasted. You must have an answer to the mess which has eluded everyone else?

    • Same answer most have come to. Devolve control to regional govt which is properly funded and also has ability to raise funds through devolved tax raising powers, as in many cities.

  • Might sound ‘[too] simple’ but: all railways going within the ‘inner M25’ boundary should be forced to be governed by the TfL. Of course, those long journey rides departing from terminals I do not mean with, but like the Luton to Rainham can no doubt be forced to TfL Rail and the ‘metro services’ to Overground.

    Politics are politics – if some are ‘having objection’ you can put something on their plate to ‘show who has the power’. London is a state of its own after all


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