It’s beyond a farce now.
Today the Department for Transport and Chirs Grayling have yet again extended GoVia’s operation of Southeastern trains until June 22nd 2019.
Nothing like sneaking it out just before the Christmas break.
This is the latest in a string of short term extensions dating all the way back to 2012. Each extension means little investment in the service. The clapped out Networker trains are nearing 30 years old without ever seeing a comprehensive refurb as is the norm across the rest of the country. They almost certainly would have or been replaced if the 2012 bid process had occurred.
Seven years on and the most bare-bones alterations on some stock has occurred due to an impending legal deadline for disabled access – yet a large number of trains will still fail to be disability-compliant when the deadline hits at the end of 2019. This will very likely mean short-formed trains in 2020.
The Department’s handling of franchises has been shambolic for years. After losing a court case in 2012 regarding the West Coast franchise they were put on hold. Southeastern has been floundering since in limbo.
Reviews come and go and the system hits problem after problem. Despite all this Grayling blocked transfer power over the lines to TfL and kept an iron grip of DfT power.
Earlier this year this site covered problems with all bids. Only three companies remain and all have issues. One had to hand in a franchise earlier this year back to a state operator (Stagecoach and East Coast), one is believed to be in trouble a little over a year after taking over (Abellio with Greater Anglia) and the other is GoVia who have run the service since 2006 and made such a mess of Thameslink earlier this year.
It doesn’t bode well.
The whole franchise process costs millions with both the DfT paying many millions to analyse bids and bidders stumping up further millions. All that is money not going on new carriages or staff.
I’m running an Xmas appeal for the site. It’s tough keeping it going whilst paying (very expensive) London rent and having a young family. Details here.