No more rail franchises before review, says committee

A parliamentary committee has described the UK’s rail franchising system as ‘broken’  according to Reuters.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that no further franchises should be awarded before a government review is carried out, but the Department for Transport rejected the findings.

Meg Hillier, chair of the cross-party committee said: “The franchising model is broken and passengers are paying the price.”

Committee members pointed to recent problems with the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise and the East Coast mainline franchise as illustrative of ‘completely inadequate’ management by the government.

Hillier said: “If taxpayers are to have any faith in government’s ability to deliver an effective passenger rail network then it must conduct and act on a thorough review before any further franchises are awarded.”

The Department for Transport said the report failed to acknowledge the complexity of the situation and said the findings were ‘imbalanced’. A spokesperson said: “Our franchising model already puts passengers and taxpayers first.”

Transport Minister Chris Grayling has proposed a shake-up of the rail franchise system, including the possibility of making some contracts smaller.