DfT will publish rail franchises' performance against benchmarks after Southern chaos

Rebecca Smith
Southern Rail users have suffered for months
Southern Rail users have suffered for months (Source: Getty)

The department for transport (DfT) has said it now intends to publish actual performance against the contractual benchmarks for each rail franchise.

Performance figures against contractual obligations will be published for every franchise every four weeks to provide frequent updates on performance to "give commuters real insight into the quality of the service they pay for".

Rail minister Paul Maynard MP wrote to the chair of the Transport Select Committee, Louise Ellman MP, to say the committee's ongoing investigations proved helpful in changing the approach.

He hasn't yet provided a date on when the publication of performance will commence: the Committee is expecting it in the DfT's response to its report on the rail passenger experience.

Read more: Southern Rail commuters had very British responses to today's train chaos

Ellman said: "I am pleased that the department has accepted the case for greater transparency made by my committee."

She said the Committee had been "continuously frustrated by the lack of information on the performance of individual rail companies", and that Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), the owner of Southern Rail, was "a particular concern" due to "the abysmal service that commuters have been forced to endure".

The Committee has been examining the performance of GTR in the context of its inquiries into the passenger experience and rail franchising.

Passengers on Southern have faced months of delays and disruptions, with ongoing industrial action carried out over the introduction of driver only operated (DOO) trains.

Read more: New Southern Rail strikes set to cause Christmas chaos

Yesterday, DfT confirmed that the requirement for DOO trains was not consulted on prior to the letting of the Southern Rail franchise. Peter Wilkinson, the managing director of passenger services at the DfT, said he didn't know why it was left out, having been included in initial tendering documents.

“I think it was just a copying of practice that had been in the franchising system since privatisation,” he added, denying it had been a deliberate omission because the move was contentious.

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