MPs: Franchises failing to deliver benefits for passengers

THE Department for Transport’s system for selecting companies to operate UK passenger franchises has once again been called into question.

The influential House of Commons Transport Select Committee (TSC) has concluded that the current franchising arrangements ‘may not be sustainable’ in the longer term without significant reforms.

Although the TSC report admits that some progress has been made since the chaotic InterCity West Coast refranchising competition collapsed in 2012, it was blunt in its criticism of the current system, saying: “The current model fails to deliver for passengers, to drive industry efficiencies, promote competition, reduce taxpayer subsidies or transfer financial risk to the private sector.”

The committee recommends that the DfT commission an independent review of its franchising functions and possibly consider the transfer of franchise enforcement powers to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) as ‘the core objectives of franchising are not being met’.

Read more in the March issue of The RM – out now!

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