HS2

20.09.18

DfT quietly pulls the plug on CrossCountry franchise competition

The government has decided to pull the plug on the CrossCountry franchise competition as a result of its rail review announcement today.

Because of the franchise’s “unique geographic nature,” running from Aberdeen to Penzance and cutting across multiple parts of the railway, the DfT has decided that awarding the next contract in 2019 could impact on the rail review’s conclusions.

The rail review, set to be led by former British Airways boss Keith Williams, will report findings next year, with reforms due to be implemented from 2020. It will look at everything from the current franchising system and industry structures to fares and private investment.

Out of fears that awarding the CrossCountry deal next year could impact on these findings, the DfT said the competition will not go ahead. Services will continue to be operated by the existing franchisee – owned by Arriva – with options beyond this “to be considered in due course.”

The department will consider the responses to the CrossCountry public consultation when developing future options for the franchise.

All other franchise competitions and live rail projects will continue as planned.

(Top image c. Andrew Milligan, PA Images)

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