UK Operators Demand Longer Franchise Deals

1 November 2009 (Last Updated November 1st, 2009 18:30)

Train companies in the UK have asked the government to revamp the current rail franchise's framework, to create longer franchise periods and put an end to "inappropriate micro-management" by civil servants. According to the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), the changes wo

Train companies in the UK have asked the government to revamp the current rail franchise's framework, to create longer franchise periods and put an end to "inappropriate micro-management" by civil servants.

According to the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), the changes would help operators deliver better services for passengers and boost private investment.

ATOC believes that franchise deals should extend to 15–20 years, compared to around seven years at the moment, to allow operators more influence over station and infrastructure improvements.

The operators feel the government should focus on the results expected from franchises such as improved passenger satisfaction and punctuality, rather than specific details and the awarding of franchises should take performance into account and not just price.

In addition, operators want franchise payments to be linked to GDP output and feel revenue support should begin earlier, as a measure to give more weight to the quality as well as price in franchise bids and share more of the risk from an economic slowdown.