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2014-09-11 DfT-003
Department for Transport

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Letter to Southeastern passengers


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Department for Transport

Letter to Southeastern passengers
_______________________________________________________________


related documents


2014-09-11 New deal to boost rail services in London and the south east (Department for Transport)

2014-09-11 Rail franchising: South Eastern direct award (Department for Transport)

_______________________________________________________________


date
11 September 2014
source Department for Transport
type Letter

note Claire Perry


Dear Southeastern Rail Passengers,

Today, my Department has announced that London & South Eastern Railway
Limited (LSER, trading as Southeastern), a subsidiary of Govia, will continue
to provide services in the South Eastern rail franchise area until June 2018. I
am writing to you to explain why we have granted this contract and, crucially,
what benefits I want this to deliver for you and your fellow passengers.

In granting this extension, I am very aware that the performance of trains on
the LSER network has not always been what you expect and deserve. Part
of this stems from the huge amount of engineering work that is going on –
part of a commitment made by this Government to invest in the infrastructure
of our rail network with better lines, new signalling and improved stations after
years of under-investment. This work does have an impact on train services
and passengers. Many of you will have recently been asked to re-route your
journeys due to a nine- day blockade of London Bridge station for example,
which is part of a drastic engineering programme to unblock north to south
trains across London, providing many more through-London services for
those living outside the capital and a station that will be one of the best in
London with a concourse the size of the pitch at Wembley stadium.

Given the scale of the engineering works happening on these routes to unblock lines and improve train running, my first priority in making this award
was to ensure that the chosen operator understands the network well enough
to manage the impact these works will have and work to minimise disruption
for your journeys at a time of great change. LSER who have run these
services since 2006 and have dealt well with service changes arising from the
Olympics, clearly meet that criteria and I did not feel that bringing in a new
operator, with no experience of the route, would give you the reliability that
you need.

However, I am also clear that LSER have, at times, failed to meet
expectations and satisfy you as passengers, and before letting this award my
team has done a huge amount of work with passengers into where LSER
needs to change. We have also totally changed the contract terms to make
sure they deliver on their promises. In fact, this is a completely new contract.
Over the next few months and years, you will therefore see the following
improvements which in total require more than £70 million of investment from
LSER.

Better services:
- improved connections between London, North Kent and East Kent from
a new hourly high speed service via Gillingham, Ramsgate, Dover and
Ashford;
- high speed services calling at Snodland, Martin Hill and Walmer for the
first time;
- additional high speed services for Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate;
- a peak-time Hastings Business Express service, providing faster
journeys into London;
- new direct services between Maidstone East and Blackfriars, and
between Sheerness-on-Sea and London Victoria; ? extra evening and weekend services between Dartford and London
Victoria;
- changes to train formation so that in the event of a failure the train can
still power itself out of trouble and remote monitoring to improve
reliability;
- spending of over £10 million on improving the train fleet with better
toilets and cleaner trains;
- new financial penalties for train delays of up to £4million
Better stations:
- new digital display screens at key stations by April 2015, and improved
customer information systems by the end of December 2015;
- more than 100 new staff dedicated to helping customers at stations
across the franchise by January 2015, all of whom will be given new
customer service training;
- staff provided with tablets by July 2015 to allow them to access the
latest service updates and give up-to-the-minute advice to passengers
Easier ticketing:
- Oyster card acceptance extended to Dartford, Swanley and Stratford
International by December 2016

With a new Managing Director in place to lead the company forward; a
commitment to building a long term relationship with you, their customers
based on trust; financial penalties payable to the Department for poor
performance; and a very clear, frequent and transparent level of reporting on
how much progress is being made; I am confident that the improvements you
need will be delivered.

It is also worth noting that, unlike the current franchise agreement that was let in 2006, this contract contains significantly reduced subsidies paid by all of us
as taxpayers, while in addition, the rail fare increases of RPI plus 3% that
were allowed for several years under the old contract have rightly been
scrapped, with you now benefiting, like passengers across the country, from a
real-term freeze on regulated fares for this year and next.

I would welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have
about this award and encourage you to get in touch with me at
claire.perry@dft.gsi.gov.uk or at claire4devizes on Twitter.

CLAIRE PERRY


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