Letter from Paul Maynard to Louise Ellman regarding follow-up questions, 17 November 2016.

041

From the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Paul Maynard MP

To: Louise Ellman MP Chair of the Transport Select Committee, House of Commons 

 

Dear Louise

Following my appearance in front of the Transport Select Committee with Peter Wilkinson, Managing Director, Passenger Services on Monday 7 November, I am writing to confirm the answers to three points I promised to follow up with you.

1. With regard to how Govia Thameslink Railway’s (GTR) performance is measured, I believe there has been a misunderstanding. It is true that the Public Performance Measure (PPM), managed by Network Rail, measures performance of train operators against the timetable that is running on the day. In the case of GTR, when we last appeared before the Committee on Wednesday 20 July, PPM would have been measured against the revised timetable, as at that time it was the timetable of the day.

However, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), under its Franchise Agreement with the Department, is measured against different benchmarks. The operator is measured on delay minutes, short formations and cancellations against its original timetable, not the timetable of the day. That is why, during the current official and unofficial industrial action, GTR has been able to submit a force majeure claim to my Department. They are entitled to do so under their contract with us and, as you are aware, we are currently processing and assessing that claim.

I am sorry if this has caused any confusion however, as I am sure you will appreciate, this is a very complex subject area of franchise management. I hope this demonstrates Peter did not mislead the committee, and his original answer, that contractual performance is measured against the original timetable, was correct.

2. The Committee also asked about the impact of poor performance and the revised timetable on farebox and total revenue.

GTR has advised my Department that the official industrial action called by RMT has resulted in an £8.4m loss of farebox revenue up to the end of Rail Period 7 on 15 October 2016.

During the same period, £4.7m was paid to customers under the Delay Repay passenger compensation scheme. This includes all claims and not just those made on strike days.

Due to unofficial industrial action on GTR, it is difficult to accurately assess the full impact of ongoing poor performance and the revised timetable on revenue. However, GTR has estimated that the likely combined impact since the start of Rail Period 1 on 1 April 2016, will be in the region of £38m for this financial year.

3. I can re-confirm that my Department is keen to publish performance data for all rail franchises and, as I stated on Monday 7 November, I would prefer to see this data disclosed in current franchises rather than at renewal stage.

I have asked my officials to look at the best way to make this information available. As I stated in my letter of 3rd November 2016, this may require us to make changes to existing franchise agreements and we will need to consider how we manage this shift in policy given the commercial and market sensitivities.

Given the importance of transparency to the public and the committee, we will also need to consider what explanatory notes may be required so that the data released is not misleading or misunderstood. As soon we have reached a conclusion following this scoping exercise I will write to the Committee to confirm the approach we will be taking.

I would like to thank you and your Committee for your comprehensive and thoughtful questions, and for your helpful challenge on rail franchising.

PAUL MAYNARD

Source: GOV.UK