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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 May 2006, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Rail franchise failings 'missed'
A South Eastern train
South Eastern Trains ran the franchise as a temporary operation
A rail operator which was stripped of it franchise had financial difficulties that should have been detected earlier, a report by MPs has said.

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee said a regular review of Connex's South Eastern franchise would have revealed these problems.

Connex "became a byword for incompetence" by frustrated passengers, said committee chairman Edward Leigh.

Connex ran the London to Kent and Sussex route for seven years from 1996.

The SRA was slow to realise that Connex was running into money problems and Connex didn't rush to make this clear to the SRA
Edward Leigh MP

Mr Leigh said the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising (OPRAF) and its successor, the now-defunct Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), had had "myopia over what Connex could realistically deliver".

He added: "The parties couldn't communicate properly and felt no trust in each other.

"The SRA was slow to realise that Connex was running into money problems and Connex didn't rush to make this clear to the SRA.

"But those who suffered most were the travelling public.

"Connex became a byword for incompetence among cold and angry passengers waiting for trains that limped in late or simply didn't arrive."

He said it was essential the Department for Transport identified train operating companies at greatest risk of failure and developed an early warning system for detecting emerging threats to their viability.

The SRA took over the Connex route in the form of the South Eastern Trains company.

It is now part of a new Integrated Kent franchise run by the GoVia company.




SEE ALSO:
Rail franchise winner announced
30 Nov 05 |  England
Rail firms submit franchise bid
31 Jul 05 |  England
RMT complains over rail franchise
29 Jun 05 |  Southern Counties
Inquiry into lost rail franchise
07 Feb 05 |  England


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