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Plans to split up beleaguered train franchise

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THE train company behind embattled Southern Railway will be split up under plans announced by the Transport Secretary.

Chris Grayling said he wants franchise Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) to be broken up when it is due for renewal in 2021.

The franchise, which began operating in September 2014, has been plagued by poor punctuality and industrial disputes.

GTR, which consists of Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Great Northern, is the largest rail franchise in the UK in terms of passenger numbers.

A spokesman for GTR said: “GTR was created to deliver a large-scale, once-in-a-generation modernisation project and it was always understood that at the end of the franchise in 2021 an alternative model would be introduced.”

Mr Grayling said: “This industry has reversed decades of decline under British Rail, delivered new investment and new trains, and doubled the number of passengers.

“But now we need to build on that success by building a new model for the 2020s and beyond, one more able to deal with the huge rise in passenger numbers and the challenges of an congested network.

“Rail passengers deserve a more reliable, service – and I will deliver it by ending the one-size-fits-all approach of franchising and bringing closer together the best of the public and private sector.”

The proposals include plans for train firms to manage the tracks their trains run on instead of Network Rail.

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas said: “The Government’s half-baked announcement today simply won’t do enough to solve the serious problems on our creaking railways.

“The planned break up of GTR suggests that the Government accepts that the company is incapable of doing its job, but its refusal to contemplate public ownership shows it is also unwilling to take the action needed to solve the major problems on the line.

“If ministers are serious about reviving our railways then they should also be committing to funding Brighton Mainline 2.

“We know we need additional capacity running into Brighton and Hove but such a line won’t be build without government investment.”


Source: The Argus