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All across the Great Western territory => Across the West => Topic started by: grahame on March 22, 2020, 07:29:29 pm

Title: What happens if the franchise runs out?
Post by: grahame on March 22, 2020, 07:29:29 pm
From City a.m. (

Train operators are running short on time to agree new contracts with the government as the coronavirus outbreak continues to drive down passenger numbers.

Go Ahead Group and First Group run the Great Western and South Eastern franchises respectively, the contracts for which expire on 31 March.

Under the Railways Act, the government will step in as the operator of last resort if the firms do not agree an extension to the deals.

However, due to the financial pressure caused by the coronavirus epidemic, the two firms are struggling to get the bank guarantees they need to run the services, the Telegraph reported.

Title: Re: What happens if the franchise runs out?
Post by: broadgage on March 22, 2020, 10:53:18 pm
I would expect an emergency franchise extension, on more favourable terms due to the great decline in travel, or perhaps on a "management fee" basis whereby the present incumbents get paid a set fee to manage the business, with losses or profits going to the government.
HMG  have greater concerns than nationalising railways, and no one will bid for a new franchise under the present conditions.

Title: Re: What happens if the franchise runs out?
Post by: grahame on March 23, 2020, 08:10:42 am
Not exactly an answer if the franchise runs out, but a statement from the DfT on taking the financial risk for continuing franchises

Written statement to Parliament

Rail emergency measures during the COVID-19 pandemic

We're supporting train operators to make sure our railways stay open for key workers during the coronavirus outbreak.

In these uncertain times, the railway has a vital role to play in ensuring Britain’s key workers can travel and vital supplies are kept moving. My absolute focus is on making sure services continue so that journeys that are vital in tackling this crisis can continue to take place, so today (23 March 2020), to make sure our railways stay open, we are providing train operators on franchises let by my department the opportunity to temporarily transition onto Emergency Measures Agreements.

These agreements will suspend the normal financial mechanisms of franchise agreements, transferring all revenue and cost risk to the government. Operators will continue to run day-to-day services for a small, pre-determined management fee. Companies entering into these agreements will see a temporary suspension of their existing franchise agreement’s financial mechanisms for an initial period of 6 months, with options for further extension or earlier cancellation as agreed.

Today’s offer will provide greater flexibility to the train operators and the government and make sure the railway can continue to react quickly to changing circumstances and play its part in serving the national interest. It will ensure vital services continue to operate for key workers who are keeping the nation running and that we are able to reinstate a normal service quickly when the situation improves.

In the longer term these agreements will also minimise disruption to the rail sector. The railways have already seen up to a 70% drop in passenger numbers, with rail fares revenue reducing as people increasingly work from home and adopt social distancing, and total ticket sales down by two-thirds from the equivalent date in 2019. Suspending the usual financial mechanisms will not only guarantee that services can be sustained over this difficult period, it will also provide certainty for staff working on the railways, many of whom are working hard every day in difficult conditions to make sure we keep the railway running.

This is not a new model, it is a temporary solution, taking the steps necessary to protect services now in a cost-efficient way, and ensuring current events have as little impact as possible on the railway in the longer term. Allowing operators to enter insolvency would cause significantly more disruption to passengers and higher costs to the taxpayer.

Fees will be set at a maximum of 2% of the cost base of the franchise before the COVID-19 pandemic began, intended to incentivise operators to meet reliability, punctuality and other targets. The maximum fee attainable will be far less than recent profits earned by train operators. In the event that an operator does not wish to accept an Emergency Measures Agreement, the Government’s Operator of Last Resort stands ready to step in.

Alongside our focus on keeping the railways open to support key workers, we recognise there will be many who have heeded government advice and chosen not to travel. We don’t want people to lose money for doing the right thing, so I am also announcing today that passengers will be able to get refunds for advance tickets they aren’t able to use while the government advises against non-essential travel.

We have agreed with all the train operators that passengers who have already purchased an advance ticket will be eligible for a refund without any charge. Those holding a season ticket that they no longer wish to use will also be eligible for a partial refund, determined by the amount of time remaining on the ticket. Ticket holders should contact their operator for further details.

Given the significant timetable changes that have put been in place we are also asking operators to use discretion to allow passengers with advance tickets to travel on an alternative train at a similar time or date if their ticket is technically no longer valid as a result of cancellations, but they still wish to travel.

We are operating in extraordinary times, but today’s announcement will make sure key workers who depend on our railways are able to travel and carry on their vital roles, that hardworking commuters - who have radically altered their lives to combat the spread of coronavirus, are not left out of pocket, and it will provide certainty to the industry’s staff who are still working hard every day to make sure the railway plays its part in tackling this crisis.

Title: Re: What happens if the franchise runs out?
Post by: grahame on March 23, 2020, 08:44:06 am
Just received (circular, I'm sure, from Matthew Golton)

Dear Graham,

The Department for Transport have just issued the media release below, and I can confirm that GWR will be transitioning to an Emergency Measures Agreement.

Our focus – in fact the whole of the railway industry’s focus - is making sure we can continue to provide the services key workers need to get to where they want to go – the announcement this morning does that.

It also means we can refund Advance tickets purchased before 23 March, and administration fees are waived on season ticket refunds.

We continue to talk to government about the next steps for GWR after the Emergency Measures Agreement, and we hope to let you know what this means beyond that soon.

Best Regards

Title: Re: What happens if the franchise runs out?
Post by: Richard Fairhurst on March 23, 2020, 09:55:41 am
Lots of speculation that this is "it" - everything will stay on management contracts until the Williams Review is eventually published post-coronavirus.

Title: Re: What happens if the franchise runs out?
Post by: broadgage on March 23, 2020, 11:16:15 am
Longer than that ! the Williams review will have to re reviewed in the light of the coronavirus.
In fact long after the virus has gone it will be splendid reason for nothing happening for years. "XYZ  seemed a good idea when it was last reviewed, but everything is different now"

All studies, reviews, and consultations will have to be re done.

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