Negotiations are underway between the Government and the Southeastern franchise’s operator GoVia for another extension to the franchise – and this time for two years from April 2020.
This would be the latest short-term extension since the franchise was supposed to end in 2014. Each failure to secure a long-term future for rail services means investment put on hold.
Back in early 2016 the Transport Minister at the time publicly agreed to transfer Southeastern services to TfL. By September 2016 it already seemed Whitehall was trying to block devolution after Chris Grayling took over as Transport Secretary. he publicly stopped it shortly afterwards – but the short term extensions to Southeastern’s franchise continued.
In 2015 then Chancellor George Osborne also announced an annual £700 million cut to TfL finances which hampered the ability to takeover operations. TfL have been further squeezed since then by declining bus passenger numbers and Crossrail delays.
The Southeastern franchise process was formally cancelled this year.
Labour have stated they will take rail into public ownership once franchises end. With the current Southeastern franchise due to end in April 2020 some could move under TfL control. The Conservatives are looking to retain private franchises – though say they will reform the system.