Transport secretary Grant Shapps says Department for Transport will now consider options, which include calling upon the Operator of Last Resort

 
First and MTR Corporation have operated SWR since August 201

 
The Department for Transport may decide to terminate the current South Western Railway franchise, replacing it with a short-term term management contract or taking it in-house.

In a written statement to parliament this week, transport secretary Grant Shapps outlined the precautionary measures that are being taken to ensure the continuation of services at SWR, which First and MTR Corporation have operated since August 2017.

Poor operational performance, combined with slower revenue growth, has led to the financial performance of SWR to be significantly below expectation since the franchise commenced. Shapps acknowledged that recent financial statements have indicated that the franchise is “not sustainable in the long term”, but SWR has not yet failed to meet its financial commitments.

As a precautionary measure, my department must prepare suitable contingency measures.

“As a precautionary measure, my department must prepare suitable contingency measures,” said Shapps. “Such options include a new short-term contract with SWR, with tightly defined performance requirements; or transferring the operation to the Operator of Last Resort (OLR), a public sector operator wholly owned by the department.”

The DfT has issued a request for proposals to the SWR franchise owners and the OLR and will evaluate the responses to determine how best to proceed.

Shapps added: “Across the country a number of franchises are failing to provide the reliable services that passengers require and there are legitimate questions on whether the current franchising model is viable.”

 
This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe!