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October 18, 2021

UK Government takes control of LSER’s operations after breach

With the recovery of $33.88m, additional investigations are being carried out.

The UK Government has seized charge of the operations of London and South Eastern Railway (LSER) following a breach of its franchise agreement.

The government’s in-house Operator of Last Resort (OLR) will now be responsible for the running of LSER services.

OLR comprises ‘experienced’ railway managers who own and supervise London North Eastern Railway and Northern.

This decision was announced last month after the franchise holder Govia, a joint venture between Go-Ahead Group and Keolis, failed to declare $33.88m (£25m) of historic taxpayer money.

An investigation carried out by the Department for Transport suggested that LSER had not declared this funding since October 2014, which was meant to be returned.

Considering the action a serious breach of the good faith obligation under the franchise agreement, the government decided to not extend the contract with LSER.

Additional investigations are being conducted and the government is looking into more options for enforcement action, such as financial penalties.

Commuters will not experience any immediate variations as fares, tickets, timetables, and services will remain unchanged.

LSER’s network covers London, Kent, East Sussex, and the High Speed 1 line.

Transport Focus passenger watchdog chief executive Anthony Smith was quoted by BBC as saying: “Passengers will want a punctual, reliable, clean train, with enough room to sit and stand, and value for money fares.”

Public ownership campaign group We Own It director Cat Hobbs said that ‘privatisation is failing our railway’ and suggested to bring the entire rail network into public hands ‘where it belongs’.

Meanwhile, last month, statistics published by the Office of Rail and Road in the UK revealed that the amount of freight moving across the country’s railways has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

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