The Government could step in and install a DfT-owned operator to run the Southeastern franchise from 23rd June if no agreement is made by the Conservative government to once again extend the current franchise with GoVia for another year.
Thanks for the heads up on this via Twitter from Jamie Narborough and you can read more on Railnews here. Over the past week it became clear the DfT had registered a new company to possibly operate services.
The Government taking over has happened before when Connex were forced to stop services in 2003 after financial mismanagement. That lasted until 2006 when current operators GoVia took control and fare rises of RPI+3% were introduced each year – which was stipulated by the Labour government at the time.
That 2006 award did not include a commitment to expand the Metro fleet or refurbishment trains – and with continual short term extensions since then the trains have barely had any substantial work carried out internally except for those required by law. Later this year disability laws could see a net reduction in carriages as current trains cannot operate on branch lines.
The government stepping in is likely to be an interim measure. More years of stagnation with lack of planning and investment is possible. Even if a short-term extension is agreed no sizable investment is likely to occur in such a short timeframe.