Six councils are calling for key changes to the Thameslink franchise to improve customer satisfaction with the rail service and communication with passengers during times of disruption.
They are backing a letter sent by St Albans City and District Council to the Department for Transport (DfT) in response to a consultation on the franchise.
The Department for Transport is proposing to combine the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchises. It has been consulting on the specification for the combined franchise which is due to start in September 2013 and run for a minimum of seven years. The franchise will be responsible for delivering rail services across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Greater London, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Norfolk, Surrey and Sussex.
The following councils have given their support to the District Council’s letter:
· Central Bedfordshire Council
· Hertfordshire County Council
· Hertsmere Borough Council
· London Borough of Barnet
· Luton Borough Council
The letter calls for:
· A significant proportion of the income for the new franchise holder, Network Rail and their respective senior staff to be linked to a measure of overall passenger satisfaction with the service.
· Bidders for the new franchise to develop a comprehensive approach to communicate effectively with passengers during times of disruption to the service.
Councillor Julian Daly, Executive Leader of St Albans City and District Council, said: “We want to see improvements to the level of passenger satisfaction as a key measure of success for both the franchisee and Network Rail. This will help link the rewards to passenger views, for example, on value for money, staff helpfulness, conditions of travel and punctuality.”
“In addition, we are concerned about passenger dissatisfaction with communications during periods of disruption. We believe that franchise bidders should be asked to develop a comprehensive approach to deal with this and any plans will have to be tested.
“I think these points will be powerfully made as we have gained support for them from the councils along the Thameslink line.”
“As a council, we plan to invite shortlisted bidders to meet with us later in the year. We will share the information on the outcome of these discussions with neighbouring councils and continue to work with them through the process.”
Councillor Julian Daly, Executive Leader of St Albans City and District Council
Tel: 01582 715645
Contact for the media:
Amanda Wilkinson, Media and Internal Communications Officer, St Albans City and District Council
Tel: 01727 819317
More information about the Department for Transport’s consultation
on the combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise is available online.
A PDF of the letter can be opened here: