Chris Grayling to scrap new Southeastern franchise process?

A number of sources are reporting that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling could this week scrap the process of awarding a new Southeastern franchise – and possibly refund three bidders to the tune of £30 million. In addition, by December 2018 the DfT had already spent £6.5 million on the process which would be lost.

The latest deadline to start the new franchise is June 2019 and operators usually need at least three months. June is in three months. It follows numerous delays and short term extensions which hampered investment.

Tired trains look cold stay for longer if no franchise is awarded

The franchise process has been beset by problems for years. When consultation documents were first revealed, future housing numbers and thus demand for services were extremely wide of the mark within London. The DfT had 36,000 homes forecasted in south east London when the reality was over 70,000.

With all three remaining bids reportedly “non-compliant” last year and all bidders having issues with other franchises it was expected that an  announcement would be sneaked out under the cover of Brexit – whether it be cancellation or a controversial award to either GoVia (the current operator and in charge of Thameslink), Stagecoach (who handed back East Coast last year) or Abellio (reportedly in discussions with the DfT after problems and missed deadlines at Greater Anglia).

Continual failure

Grayling’s predecessor Patrick McLoughlin  had agreed for routes within London to be devolved to Transport for London before Grayling famously turned his back on the deal. Some at the time said the DfT would want to show the world they could offer south east London and Kent a litany of improvements. Many were dubious then, and more so now.

Barriers from first to last train plus cheaper fares since TfL took over

TfL had planned to staff many stations within London from first to last train to gain additional revenue. That obviously hasn’t happened, yet they’ve taken over Abbey Wood station as Crossrail will call there when it eventually opens. It now has all-day staffing and barriers with passenger growth up 50% during some months compared to the year before.

Each bidder generally pays around £10 million, so if Grayling scraps the process taxpayers will have to fork out another £30 million shortly after the ferry fiasco and heavy criticism over Grayling’s privatisation of probation when Minister of Justice which is estimated to cost taxpayers £500 million.

It must be said this is coming from decent sources but not confirmed. Where it leaves future investment remains to be seen.


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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.

7 thoughts on “Chris Grayling to scrap new Southeastern franchise process?

  • Oh FFS how is this joke of a man still in Government? Stations like Kidbrooke need more carriages. Has anyone in the DfT the first clue that thousands of homes are going up directly next door right now?

    And what of Lewisham! More towers approved in the past few months. And Deptford. It goes on and on. Abbey Wood figures give an insight into the real amount of people travelling.

    • Agreed! All we want is improvements to the service as passenger numbers grow but can’t have it since it’s not in the original franchise agreement, written years ago and meant to be rewritten years ago too.

      “bUt ThE pRiVatE SEctOr eLimInATeS aLL tHe aDmiNIsTrAtiVE rEd tApE????”

      What a joke.

  • Let Thameslink take over the metro services and Southeastern (whose intercity trains are newer AND have been refurbed recently) keep the Kent services. Despite the May 2018 timetable fiasco, Thameslink have proven record of introducing large fleets of new rolling stock which would be perfect on the SE metro routes and far better than those awful tibe style Overground carriages.

    • Thameslink and Southeastern are the same company – so apart from branding that wouldn’t make any difference. The difference relates to contracts with DfT and the investment network rail etc have signed up to.

      • Same parent companies, yes. Very different operating companies. If you want better services, the only viable short term option is new, better, longer rolling stock. Thameslink recently did this on a gigantic scale with the Siemens trains. Get them to do this on the Southeastern metro lines and your lives will improve significantly. That is the point I am making.

        • But Thameslink aren’t paying for all the station upgrades etc – that’s Network Rail , DfT etc. Southeastern could deliver a better service but it would require major investment from Network Rail, DfT etc which isn’t going to happen. There is probably further investment that can be made to optimise the network between Dartford and London Bridge etc but don’t hold your breath for major investment of Thameslink / Crossrail scale.

          • I hopr the inner M25 TfL will force feed them to be allocated

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