New rail franchise to deliver smart card tickets and encourage investment in better stations

Posted: 2 July 2012 | | No comments yet

“A more flexible franchise will encourage private sector investment…”

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The new 15 year Essex Thameside franchise will see passengers benefit from the introduction of smart card ticketing and provide important opportunities for private sector investment in improving stations, under proposals being put forward by Rail Minister Theresa Villiers today.

The Government’s Invitation to Tender (ITT) published today for the new franchise, will also give bidders much more flexibility to develop their own train timetable to better suit passenger demand.

Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said:

“A more flexible franchise will encourage private sector investment, for example in improving stations. It will promote greater efficiency to drive down costs and also enable the train operator to react more flexibly to changing passenger demand.

“The introduction of new requirements on passenger satisfaction will mean the operator has to focus strongly on the issues that matter most to passengers. Across the franchise, the roll out of smart ticketing will provide many more passengers with greater convenience and the sort of advantages already enjoyed in the capital.”

The new franchise will run for 15 years from May 2013 to May 2028, with an option for the Department to extend for up to 7 months.

Full repairing responsibilities of the 25 stations, including Fenchurch Street, will be transferred from Network Rail to the new operator.

The franchise agreement will ensure that a minimum number of stops at each station will be provided but gives bidders more flexibility to adapt timetables to cater for changes in demand. This should enable the future franchisee to run services in a more efficient way which is more responsive to the travelling priorities of passengers using the line.

New Service Quality targets have been set and based around stations, train services, train facilities and customer services. The indicators have been weighted to reflect local priorities and will be revised to capture any changes during the franchise.

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