St Albans City and District Council has submitted its formal response to the government consultation on the future of the Thameslink franchise.
The Department for Transport (DfT) 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 Council’s response comments on the specification for the combined franchise in the following areas:
- passenger communication;
- contingency plans;
- fares and refunds;
- re-instating the service whereby Midland Mainline trains stop at St. Albans;
- ensuring better integration between trains and other forms of public transport, especially between villages and train stations;
- providing accessible performance information at a local level.
In particular, the response says that improvements need to be made to the service to improve customer satisfaction levels and passenger communication during times of disruption.
It refers to a letter sent by the Council, with the backing of five other local councils, in response to the consultation. The letter proposes that a significant part of the income of the new franchise operator and Network Rail should be linked to improvements in customer satisfaction levels. It also requests that bidders develop a comprehensive approach to provide effective passenger communication during periods of disruption.
In addition, the full response calls for franchise bidders to demonstrate how their bids provide additional value to residents in clear terms. For example, this may be through new services or the use of economies of scale to produce lower fares.
Cllr Julian Daly, Executive Leader of St Albans City and District Council, said: “The response sets out in detail where the Council believes improvements can be made to the franchise so that it delivers a better customer experience. One way of ensuring that improvements are made to the service is by linking part of the successful franchisee’s income to customer satisfaction levels.
“A key area where improvements need to be made is around communication with customers during periods of service disruption. We hope to explore this further in any meetings we have with potential bidders where we will discuss how their bids can incorporate our suggested improvements.
“I want to thank the Local Services Scrutiny Committee and its Thameslink Franchise Bid working group for their contribution to developing the Council’s response.”
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 Council’s response to the Department for Transport’s consultation on the combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise can be seen below.