Southeastern railway has been stripped of its franchise after failing to pay more than £25 million of taxpayers’ money.
The government announced this morning (Tuesday, September 28) that all Southeastern services would be replaced as of next month after the “serious breach of good faith” by the railway company was exposed.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said £25 million of payments to the Department for Transport (DfT) were not paid, and an alternative operator would take over the running of rail services in the south east to protect taxpayers’ interests.
READ MORE: More comfortable and accessible trains running on Southeastern network across South London
(Image: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
As of October 16, all Southeastern services will transfer from London South Eastern Railway (LSER) to SE Trains Limited.
Southeastern railway released a statement this morning to say passengers will see “no change in day-to-day operations”.
Robin Gisby, chair of SE Trains Limited, said: “I’d like to reassure all passengers that this is very much business as usual with no immediate changes.”
All tickets will remain valid after transfer and new tickets can continue to be purchased in the usual way.
SE Trains Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of the DfT’s OLR Holdings Limited (‘DOHL’), the Public Sector Owning Group with responsibility for LNER and Northern Trains Limited.
In a statement, Mr Shapps said: “There is clear, compelling and serious evidence that LSER have breached the trust that is absolutely fundamental to the success of our railways.
“When trust is broken, we will act decisively.”
He also wrote, in a thread on his Twitter: “Investigations have identified a serious breach of good faith by Southeastern.
“To protect taxpayers’ interests and passengers I have ordered the Operator of Last Resort to urgently take over the running of rail services in the South East.
“Over £25m of historic payments due to the Department were not declared – a significant breach of the franchise agreement.
“We won’t accept anything less from the private sector than a total commitment to their passengers, and transparency with taxpayers.
“Fares, tickets and services are unchanged for passengers.
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In a statement, the DfT said it had evidence that since October 2014 historical taxpayer funding of £25m, which should have been returned, had not been declared.
It said although the money has now been reclaimed, further action, including financial penalties, were possible pending the outcome of an investigation.
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