Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by RITC (PRF 19)


  It is RITC's view that short extensions to existing franchises will have a detrimental effect on the rail industry:

    —  developing franchise bids is a resource hungry activity. It diverts industry experts, of whom there is not an over abundance, from their primary task of managing the operation of the railways;

    —  it will encourage players in the industry to focus on the performance targets they are set rather than investment in people, processes and systems to ensure improvements in working practices;

    —  it is a disincentive for TOCs to invest in new rolling stock and customer facilities as there is less assurance of a return on that investment;

    —  investment, improvements and initiatives already commenced could be left incomplete as franchises come to an end and changes occur. New players will want to implement their own plans;

    —  the rail industry is already suffering skill shortages and experiencing difficulties in recruiting high calibre people. What is needed more than anything is a period of stability so that rail is seen as the worthwhile career that it is. (The general public do not recognise that jobs are usually safe no matter how often franchises/contracts change hands, but even if they do, not everyone wants a change of management and working practice every two years!).

  We agree with the SRA's approach that longer term franchises lead to investment in rolling stock, stations and infrastructure and people.

  Rather than short franchise extensions, longer franchises could be let and incorporate issues such as people development and industrial relations with the conditions of the franchise and review achievement against pre-set milestones.

Jackie Chappell

Chief Executive


September 2001

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