Consultation on future plans for Southeastern franchise including proposal to ditch First Class extended until the end of June

 
Rebecca Smith
An original consultation was due to close today
An original consultation was due to close today (Source: Southeastern)

A consultation on the next franchise blueprint for Southeastern has been extended until the end of June.

Plans, including proposals to ditch First Class and extend high-speed services, were unveiled by the Department for Transport (DfT) in March.

Read more: First Class could be ditched in the government's new plans for Southeastern

The DfT opened a consultation setting out what it expected the next operator to deliver for passenger was due to close today, but has now been extended until 30 June.

The DfT said it wanted people to have time to feed in their views for the next franchise, and with events around the consultation cancelled due to purdah, it has extended the consultation period so these can be rescheduled.

There were originally 11 events planned, but five were cancelled due to the rules regarding activity in the pre-election period.

The contract for the current operator, Govia, expires in December 2018, and among the DfT's proposed changes for the new operator, is "removing First Class seating on the busiest routes" to provide more space; particularly important "during peak hours".

At the moment Southeastern, covering commuter routes in South East London and Kent, runs around 2,000 train services each weekday.

The surprise announcement of a General Election, scheduled for 8 June, has already been a blow to Crossrail 2 planners, who previously anticipated a decision from the DfT on its business and funding plan by the end of May to keep its projected timeline on track.

The DfT, however, will leave the matter for the next government to consider before making the decision.

If given the go-ahead, the Crossrail 2 team will prepare for a hybrid bill, with the original plan to submit that to parliament by the autumn of 2019.

The timeline plans for Royal Assent by 2021/2022 and would then start building ready to open for 2033, "just in time for HS2 Phase 2 to arrive at Euston", according to Crossrail 2 boss Michele Dix. She wants Crossrail 2 to tie in with HS2 so the full benefits of both can be realised.

Read more: Crossrail 2 set to be derailed by the General Election

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