The excellent London Reconnections website has a feature today on the conditions TfL are setting for the new contractor to operate the London Overground service. It brings out again how TfL’s “concession” model can allow service improvement and stronger incentives on rail companies to deliver it.
The planned features of the new contract reportedly include:
- a new, tighter, definition of “late” – no longer the “within 5 minutes” of DfT’s so-called “Public Performance Measure” but “within 3 minutes”. (Interestingly 3 minutes is also the threshold at which Network Rail start paying compensation to Train Operating Companies like Southeastern.) Arguably the definition should really be “within 1 minute” – late should mean late – but it is a step forward by TfL.
- contractual provision that meeting the punctuality standard by “station-skipping” does not count. Station-skipping seems to be becoming increasingly frequent on Southeastern, and, because it is not automatically recorded, it is not clear that it is always correctly reported in the published performance statistics
- a financial incentive on the operator to manage the performance of Network Rail’s provision of infrastructure and signalling. That’s better than the current system where Train Companies like Southeastern can simply blame Network Rail for the disruption their customers suffer. It would be good if the structure of the contract also stopped the operating company simply trousering any surplus compensation from Network Rail not already passed on to customers or used to cover genuine extra costs.
- the possibility of all-night services on some routes on Friday and Saturday nights.
It also appears that Go-Ahead – the group behind Southeastern and Thameslink – are bidding for the operating contract. If they could credibly deliver this standard of service for TfL, why aren’t they already providing it for the long-suffering rail users of Kent and South East London? Thankfully from 2018 it looks as though TfL will be given the chance to bring new management and new standards to our area.
The full London Reconnections article is worth reading, and it can be read here.
What do you think? Please let us know.