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1998-08-19 OPR-001
OPRAF

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Over £2.5 million of passenger benefits to compensate for poor performance on Chiltern Railways


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OPRAF

Over £2.5 million of passenger benefits to compensate for poor performance on Chiltern Railways
_______________________________________________________________


date
19 August 1998
source OPRAF
type Press release



Franchising Director John O'Brien today announced that he had agreed a package of benefits for passengers on Chiltern Railways as compensation for recent poor performance on the line.

Chiltern has been called in by the Franchising Director on four separate occasions in the past year for cancelling more than 1% of trains in each of four four-week operating periods. They will also exceed this level in the current period, which ends on 22 August. Mr O 'Brien has deemed this to constitute a breach of their franchise agreement. In addition to requiring Chiltern to implement an action plan to remedy the situation quickly, he has negotiated a substantial package of passenger benefits.

Mr O'Brien said:
"Chiltern Railways is in the process of implementing a large investment
programme, and this has led to disruption in the short term. Its contract is also
one of the toughest in the industry in terms of the number of trains they are
allowed to cancel before being called in, reflecting previous good performance
on that line. But passengers want a service they can rely on now, not a
promise of a return to good service at some unspecified time in the future.

"My first priority is therefore to see services improved to an acceptable level. I
am satisfied that the action plan put forward by Chiltern will result in an
immediate return to contractual reliability levels. In addition, the package of
improvements offered will provide contractual commitments that will directly
benefit passengers. The management also know that a ny further breaches of
acceptable operating levels could still lead to formal enforcement action.

"I am pleased that Chiltern Railways has approached the issue so
constructively and, after consulting the Central Rail Users' Consultative
Committee, the London Regional Passengers Committee and the Rail Users '
Consultative Committee for the Midlands, I am satisfied that agreeing this
package is the right approach."

The improvements for passengers which OPRAF has agreed with Chiltern
Railways are worth over £2.5 million over the life of the franchise.

They include:
One week's free travel for all existing annual and quarterly season
ticket holders on expiry of their current tickets.
Improved Passenger's Charter compensation arrangements, to entitle
passengers to a refund of 100% of the single journey cost if they are
delayed by more than one hour, and 50% if delayed by more than 30
minutes. These refunds will also apply to season ticket holders, and will
be in cash, rather than vouchers, if requested.
Additional security at major stations, with security attendants on duty
until 23.00 Monday to Saturday, and applications for Secure Stations
accreditation at seven stations.
New public address systems and passenger help points at all stations
by July 1999.
Disabled access lifts and new passenger shelters at Bicester station by
March 1999.
Refurbishment of toilets at nine stations by the end of 1998, plus
refurbishment and increased facilities at Marylebone by August 1999.
Chiltern Railways' plan to ensure a return to acceptable operating
performance includes:
Maintaining spare trains for emergency use in the peak at Marylebone
and Aylesbury.
Modifying rolling stock to improve reliability, including replacing all 61
unreliable engines on Class 165 vehicles, and enhancing maintenance
cover at key locations and on board trains.
Recruiting additional drivers, including an allowance for contingencies.
Working with Railtrack and London Underground Ltd to improve
infrastructure reliability.
Improving performance management and monitoring processes.

Chiltern Railways predicts that, although some of these measures are longer term, those which they are able to implement straight away will see an immediate return to a more reliable service.

Notes to editors

1. Where a breach of the franchise agreement involves a material adverse
effect on passengers, the Franchising Director 's Objectives, Instructions and
Guidance from Government require him to ensure that the situation is
remedied, as well as securing additional benefits as compensation. Where
contractual remedies cannot be obtained or are inappropriate he may take
action under section 55 of the Railways Act to propose an enforcement order,
specifying financial penalties where appropriate.

2. The franchise agreements provide for a special call-in meeting where total
cancellations (trains which are cancelled throughout or fail to complete 50% of
their route mileage) exceed a specified level in any four week operating
period. Chiltern Railways exceeded its threshold level of 1% in Periods 6
(17.8.97 - 13.9.97) and 9 (9.11.97 - 6.12.97) last year, and Periods 3 (31.5.98
- 27.6.98) and 4 (28.6.98 - 25.7.98). It is already clear that they will exceed
the threshold in the current operating period - Period 5 (26.7.98 - 22.8.98).

3. As required under the Railways Act, the Franchising Director is issuing a
section 55 (6) notice of remedy, once the necessary contract changes have
been signed. Both the notice and the contract changes will then be placed on
the Franchising Director's public register.

4. The Chiltern Railways franchise was awarded to M40 Trains - a
management buy out group with backing from 3i and John Laing - on 25 June
1996. It operates passenger train services throughout the M40 corridor
between Birmingham and London. Passengers are a mix of commuters,
business and leisure travellers.


Railhub Archive ::: 1998-08-19 OPR-001





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