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Southeastern Railway Company: Franchises

Volume 469: debated on Tuesday 11 December 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what procedures her Department followed in making the recent franchise agreement with Southeastern Railway Company; and what assessment was made of the likely effect on fares for travellers from Sidcup and Albany Park stations before agreeing the franchise. (172556)

In competing and awarding rail franchises, the Department's procedures comply with relevant procurement legislation and Office of Government Commerce guidelines. Evaluations of bids include checking compliance with the Department's fares policy. Such an assessment would not have been made at the level of detail to determine the impact on travellers from Sidcup and Albany Park stations.

The Southeastern franchise is limited to an average annual increase in regulated fares (including those for season tickets, full fare singles and returns) of RPI +3 per cent. for five years from 2007 reflecting the very significant investment in the franchise in recent years including more than £600 million in new rolling stock (some 408 new carriages) and £93 million in power supply, stations, depots and infrastructure.

A new zonal fares structure introduced Oyster Pay-As-You-Go smart ticketing on Southeastern in 2007 and will enable the introduction across national rail in London from 2009. It simplifies the current complex system of individually priced station-to-station fares.

In order to achieve this, and to maintain a coherent and balanced fare structure, some season ticket fares have been permitted to be increased above the otherwise maximum level.