Southeastern risks multi-million pound fine over performance

PUBLISHED: 11:25 10 December 2015 | UPDATED: 13:02 10 December 2015




Transport minister Claire Perry outlined the risk in a letter

Rail company Southeastern could face penalties of up to £4million if it fails to meet targets, according to a letter from the transport minister.

In a letter to Bexley MP James Brokenshire, the transport minister Claire Perry explained the rail company could face the penalties if they fail to achieve benchmarks set out by the National Rail Passenger Survey.

There are benchmarks for stations, train services and customer service.

The Department of Transport is set to review the benchmarks in March next year.

Bexley MP James Brokenshire said: “In a week where passengers have suffered significant disruption, I welcome the Minister’s commitment to work to improve local rail services.

“It is absolutely right that if Southeastern fail to meet the targets set they should be hit with a significant financial penalty.”

“In addition, the news that the Department is planning to engage more directly with Transport for London with a view to potentially bringing more suburban services, including the Southeastern network, under TfL control is positive.

“I have long campaigned for this change and will be doing everything I can to secure more reliable services for passengers both up to and after the current franchise’s expiry in 2018.”

A spokesman from Southeastern said: “We note that the Rail Minister states in her letter that ‘Southeastern’s continued aim is to improve their performance’ and that we have ‘continued our ‘hard work to deliver network improvements’.

“This is something that we are absolutely committed to and have so far delivered a number of improvements such as enhanced timetable changes, more robust maintenance work of our trains so that more than ever before are in service at any one time and improved information and more employees at our stations to help passengers on their journeys.

“In regards to what the Minister’s letter says about penalties related to performance, this is something that is hardwired into a franchise agreement for all Train Operating Companies and is set out in their contract at the start of the franchise. These penalties are mainly performance based and will be incurred if performance targets are not met.

“We are of course working hard to improve performance as a whole and subsequently avoid penalties being incurred.”

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