The Department for Transport has cancelled the competition for a new South Eastern franchise. Incumbent operator Govia will continue to operate services until 1 April 2020.
A DfT spokesperson said the cancellation ‘follows significant concerns that continuing the competition process would lead to additional costs incurred to the taxpayer, with no certainty that this would deliver envisaged benefits for passengers in a timely fashion’. He added: ‘The Department will use this period to develop a solution that delivers the capacity and performance benefits that passengers are expecting, and ensure that the recommendations of the Williams Review can be implemented’.
Three bids were originally submitted for the new franchise, from incumbent operator Govia, a consortium of Abellio, JR East and Mitsui, and a partnership between Stagecoach and Alstom, but it was confirmed in April this year that the latter bid had been disqualified due to non-compliance regarding pensions. Govia has operated Southeastern since 2006, latterly through a series of short awards, with the latest of these now extended to run until April next year.
Asked whether the cancellation affected the ongoing West Coast Partnership franchise competition, a DfT spokesperson told Modern Railways this competition was still live with a winner expected to be announced by September in line with the schedule set out in the Invitation to Tender.