Initially, the government suspended the rail network to maintain operations due to declining passenger demand due to the COVID 19 pandemic, but on September 21, 2020, the rail franchising policy was abandoned. Emergency agreements (which effectively convert franchises into concessions) will be maintained until they pass legislation to replace the system, which is likely to be a permanent concession system, as is already the case in some urban areas. [3] [4] The rail duty is decided by the UK Department of Transport (DfT), which sets limits and terms of use and awards contracts to rail operators. [5] As part of the de-elected administrative agreements, deductibles are awarded to Transport Scotland`s ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper and the Transport for Wales-Borders franchise in Wales. The Labour government, elected in 1997, decided not to revisit the privatization process, although it had made a series of reform proposals, including the creation of a new Strategic Railway Authority (SRA) whose functions would be the responsibility of franchising, as well as some tasks previously carried out by the Railway Regulatory Authority and the Railway Directorate of the Ministry of Transport. Since this would take some time, given that it was legislation, the SRA was created in June 1999 in a “shadow” form. Part of its mandate has been to ensure that the railways are “a coherent network and not just a collection of various franchises.” Its objectives were consistent with the government`s broader objectives, which were defined in July 2000 as a 10-year transport plan 2010. [32] There will be more than 300 additional Sunday services throughout the franchise, with most lines running on Saturday frequencies. There will be more evening and later Saturday connections from Birmingham and a new hourly link from Birmingham and Wolverhampton to Crewe by Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent. In 2012, the franchising system collapsed as a result of the West Coast controversy (see below).

Following the crisis, the government commissioned two investigations, the Laidlaw Inquiry to investigate the cause of the West Coast failure, and Brown magazine[42] to study the broader franchise system. The Laidlaw report was published in December 2012 and found that DfT was the first to be responsible for the failure of the West Coast after making several errors in its financial modeling. [7] The three major franchise competitions – Great Western, Essex Thameside and Thameslink – were suspended until the Brown exam results. [6] It was published in January 2013 and concluded that there were no fundamental gaps in the system, but it made 11 recommendations on how to improve it. One of the recommendations was to disseminate the re-franchise schedule in order to avoid a pooling that has made it a question for the government not to hold more than four competitions per year and to clean up the rewards on the east and west coasts. [7] Another Brown recommendation was to break the standard deductible period into two periods: an initial duration of 7 to 10 years, followed by an automatic extension of 3 to 5 years if the performance criteria were met (but may also be granted if they were not to deter abuse by underperforming OCD).


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