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GORDON HENDERSON MP

FOR SITTINGBOURNE & SHEPPEY

MP asks for rail franchise consultation upon renewal of contract

10th May 2011
MP asks for rail franchise consultation upon renewal of contract

Local MP, Gordon Henderson asked Shadow Secretary of State for transport, Theresa Villiers, if she would give an assurance that a consultation would take place with rail user groups before the existing rail franchises are renewed.

This parliamentary question was asked after Southeastern Rail had their current franchise contract extended by two years, despite an appalling performance record and repeated customer complaints.

The full parliamentary question and answer given by Mrs Villiers is below:

Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne and Sheppey) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that a meaningful consultation will take place with rail user groups before any of the existing rail franchises are renewed? I am thinking in particular of Southeastern, which has just had its current franchise extended by two years, despite an appalling performance record on the north Kent coastal line and repeated customer complaints.

Mrs Villiers: When we issue new franchises, we carry out a detailed consultation process. We will be doing that when the current Southeastern franchise finishes. No consultation was carried out in relation to the continuation review, because this was a contractual term of the franchise that was agreed by the previous Government, which meant that an automatic extension was granted if targets were met by Southeastern. Those targets were met; we had no choice—the extension had to go ahead. In those circumstances, a consultation was not appropriate.

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