Transport secretary Grant Shapps has suggested rail firms should be given financial rewards for running trains on time, admitting that they still get paid when services are late.
Shapps said rail firms currently operate in a “dysfunctional and flawed” system where “they can not run trains on time and still get paid”.
Asked by Sky News whether incentivising firms to be punctual meant threatening to strip them of their franchise, Shapps replied: “Well actually simpler than that – relatively simple: pay them for when they do that job…Rather than, as happens at the moment, they can not run trains on time and still get paid. It’s really a very, I think, we’ve ended up with a very dysfunctional and flawed system.”
He suggested financial rewards such as bonuses were being floated in the “root and branch” review into the industry led by former chief executive Keith Williams, which was called in the aftermath of last year’s May timetable chaos that caused thousands of delays and cancellations.
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: “The Conservatives have been forced to acknowledge that private train companies prioritise profits over delivering reliable and affordable services, but paying train companies extra for running services on time is absurd.
“That the transport secretary believes train companies aren’t being paid enough to incentivise them to run trains on time demonstrates how broken privatisation is. The railway is an essential public service that should be run in the public interest under public ownership.”
Statistics released earlier today by the rail regulator revealed that just over a third of trains did not run on time over the past year, using a new metric that measures arrival times by the minute.