Friday, December 9, 2022

Council leader wants government on right track over rail contracts

THURROCK Council Leader Cllr John Kent is calling on the government for clarity over the re-franchising of the c2c or Essex Thameside rail line contract.

This week he has written to Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, asking for answers.

Cllr Kent says that in a press release, the government admitted the cancellation of the West Coast Main Line railway franchise competition would also mean delays in the c2c changes.

The release stated the cancellation had forced a “pause [to] all the other outstanding franchise competitions (Great Western, Essex Thameside and Thameslink) pending the independent reviews which are designed to ensure future competitions are robust and deliver best value for passengers and tax payers”.

Cllr Kent’s letter states: “I am most concerned to learn that there have been significant technical flaws in the way the franchise process was conducted for the West Coast Main Line and that, as a consequence, the Essex Thameside Rail franchise process has now been paused.

“The Essex Thameside franchise process was at an advanced stage and I would like clarification on whether the process will restart at its current point, or will part of the process need rerunning, and, as a result, what will the impact be upon the proposed start date for a new franchise?

“In addition, can you confirm that, if there will be a delay to the start date, the C2C services will be suitably extended to cover the extra period?”

Cllr Kent said: “Thurrock’s rail passengers and the c2c staff deserve to know exactly where they stand in all of this. How long is this pause and does it throw the whole franchise system into chaos?”

He said: “The franchise was due to end in May next year – and that followed a two-year extension to get past the Olympics – so how much longer will this confusion reign?”

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