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Council chief worried over rail franchise
7:30am Tuesday 16th October 2012 in News
THURROCK Council leader John Kent has raised his concerns over the re-franchising of the c2c railway line, after the Government announced it was cancelling the West Coast Main Line railway franchise competition.
The Government announced last week it is suspending three members of staff involved in the West Coast franchise competition after a number of flaws were discovered in the way the franchising process was being carried out.
On discovery of these issues, Patrick McLoughlin, the Transport Secretary announced all other rail franchise competitions, including the c2c competition, will be “paused”.
According to Mr McLoughlin, independent reviews will now be carried out “to ensure future competitions are robust and deliver best value for passengers and tax payers”.
Negotiations to enable a new rail operator to take control of the Essex Thameside line, currently operated by c2c, were at an advanced stage, according to Cllr Kent, with the current contract ending in May.
In a letter to Mr McLoughlin, Cllr Kent said: “I am most concerned to learn there have been significant technical flaws in the way the franchise process was conducted for the West Coast Main Line and that, as a consequence, the Essex Thameside Rail franchise process has now been paused.
“The Essex Thameside franchise process was at an advanced stage and I would like clarification on whether the process will restart at its current point, or will part of the process need rerunning, and, as a result, what will the impact be upon the proposed start date for a new franchise?
“In addition, can you confirm that, if there will be a delay to the start date, the C2C services will be suitably extended to cover the extra period?
Cllr Kent added: “Thurrock’s rail passengers and the c2c staff deserve to know exactly where they stand in all of this. How long is this pause and does it throw the whole franchise system into chaos?
“The franchise was due to end in May next year and that followed a two-year extension to get past the Olympics so how much longer will this confusion reign?”