Southeastern railway: How the Government’s takeover of Southeastern will affect YOU

GMB: Kate Garraway grills Grant Shapps on trains and railways

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The Government has extracted Southeastern railway from Go-Ahead following an investigation into the public transport company. Transport secretary Grant Shapps revealed a Department for Transport investigation uncovered significant undeclared taxpayer funding. Go-Ahead allegedly held on to more than £25 million of taxpayer cash it should have returned, breaching the “good faith” obligation outlined in its Government contract.

Southeastern will come under the jurisdiction of the Government’s Operation of Last Resort railway management team from October 17.

In a series of tweets, Mr Shapps outlined how the management shuffle would impact services.

He said the Government moved to “protect taxpayers’ interests and passengers”, and that he wouldn’t accept “anything less from the private sector than a total commitment to their passengers”.

He also outlined that Southeastern would continue to function as it is presently, with fares unchanged.

Mr Shapps wrote: “Fares, tickets and services are unchanged for passengers.

“Through the OLR we’ll prioritise the punctual, reliable services passengers deserve, rebuild trust, and deliver the reforms set out in our #PlanForRail.”

Robin Gisby, chair of SE Trains Limited, said the decision would not affect “day-to-day operations of our train services”.

He added that the network would continue to run “business as usual”.

Southeastern passengers will find the present ticketing arrangements remain, with no changes to validity or purchasing.

Network management has promised to work with the Government to settle the current situation.

In a statement, Go-Ahead group chairman Clare Hollingsworth said the group has “always” intended to provide “the best possible public transport” and “work in partnership with the Government and related agencies”.

She added Go-Ahead recognised that “mistakes have been made” and “sincerely” apologised to the Department for Transport.

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Ms Hollingsworth said her organisation is working “constructively” with the department to settle the matter.

The Department for Transport said it had claimed the outstanding sum and will undertake further investigations where necessary.

When Southeastern rail falls under OLR management, it will join two other rail services.

The department currently handles London North Eastern Railway and Northern Trains.

The former network fell to OLR control in 2018 when Virgin Trains East Coast defaulted.

And the latter network joined in March last year following the Government’s decision to terminate the Arrival Rail North franchise.

The Conservatives have planned to introduce the Great British Railway (GBR), a public sector body that governs every aspect of the UK rail network.

The Government will give GBR the power to set individual fares, and the Transport Secretary has previously failed to rule out increases.

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