TOCs 2005-2009: Direct Government Responsibility

Passenger Rail Franchising Companies in Great Britain (TOCs)

TOCs 2005 - 2009: Direct Government Responsibility

The Railways Act 2005 abolished the SRA and transferred the responsibility for franchises in England and Wales directly to the government through the Secretary of State for Transport, with the Welsh Government being given a direct role over services in Wales. Responsibility for the ScotRail franchise was passed to the Scottish Government. The 2005 Act also gave local and devolved administrations the ability to alter fares up or down, provided they funded the extra cost, or used the savings on other transport modes. In a move designed to make them accountable for their decisions in this new role, English passenger transport executives were no longer direct parties to franchise agreements, instead gaining a role in long-term planning and a statutory right to consultation over franchises in their areas. In London, the Act required the DfT to consult Transport for London on any franchise with services to, from or within London. In July 2007, these powers were extended, with measures designed to protect those outside London, with the DfT as the arbiter of disputes.

In October 2007, the European Union set the maximum length of a rail franchise at 22.5 years: 15 years initially, with a 50% extension in certain circumstances.

By 2007 the Labour government was happy with how the franchise system was leading to improvements in customer satisfaction and better trains, crediting TOC's use of their freedoms under the system to deliver passenger growth. The 2008 recession sparked fears over franchisees' ability to survive, although the government allayed these fears in 2009.

Passenger rail franchising has been examined by the National Audit Office and a report was published on 15 October 2008.

In response to continuing criticism, changes in how franchises were agreed and monitored continued, by 2010 agreements contained penalties for failure to increase reliability, and the number of KPIs had been reduced.


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