The Transport Select Committee is to investigate the causes behind the failure of the Intercity East Coast franchise.
In a statement today (February 12), it said it would also look into the best options to maintain services on the route.
The TSC said that in oral evidence on January 22, Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said the reason the franchise ran into difficulties was: “purely and simply about the revenue that it has received to date.”
This is the third franchise to collapse on the route since the start of 2007.
Lilian Greenwood MP, TSC Chairman, said: “This failure – not once, but three times – has drawn criticism from all corners.
“There are serious questions to be asked of the train operator, Network Rail and Ministers and the Transport Committee intends to ask them. The failure of the East Coast franchise has wider implications for rail franchising and the competitiveness of the current system. Lessons need to be learned by all concerned.
“In the meantime, the Department for Transport must take the right steps to protect passengers and taxpayers. Safeguards must be put in place to restore public confidence in the sustainability of our railways.”
In a statement, the TSC said its inquiry will: “examine the lessons to be learned from this and previous franchise failures on this part of the network; the best way forward in the short and longer term; and the wider implications for the rail franchising system.”
It is especially interested in:
- the reasons for the failure of the current franchise agreement, lessons learnt from previous failures of franchises on the East Coast Main Line and the steps the Department for Transport needs to take to guard against future failures;
- the management of infrastructure works on the ECML, including the relationships between the DfT’s aspirations for the franchise, the operators’ obligations in the franchise agreement and planned Network Rail infrastructure works;
- the DfT's contingency plans, particularly the steps it is taking to minimise risk to passengers and taxpayers;
- the readiness of the DfT to act as an operator of last resort;
- the feasibility of the DfT’s proposal to establish a public/private East Coast Partnership, to be operational by 2020;
- the wider implications for rail franchising of the failure of the East Coast franchise, including for the competitiveness of the system.
Written submissions should be made by March 26.
- For the latest on the East Coast, read RAIL 846, published on February 14, and available now on Android and iPad.
- To read about Chris Grayling's appearance at the TSC, read RAIL 845, available on shelves now, as well as on Android and iPad.