FCC franchise could be ended

29 January 2010

Transport minister Sadiq Khan said yesterday that the government is considering nationalising First Capital Connect, the franchise that runs the Thameslink service. When Kelvin Hopkins challenged him to take over the firm which ‘has shown itself totally incompetent and interested only in making money, not providing a service’, the minister told the Luton North MP that ‘all options were on the table’.

ASLEF members exposed a massive shortage of train drivers in the company when they began to decline voluntary overtime working towards the end of last year. The service collapsed, leading almost 5,000 people to sign a petition on the Downing Street website calling for FCC to be stripped of its franchise due to a ‘gross lack of competence’.

Keith Norman said he understood the concerns, but accused the government of continuing to ignore the ‘blatant and obvious’ fact that the franchising system was inherently flawed. He said, ‘Rushing round trying to sort out individual companies over which it has no control is not going to be successful in the long-term.

‘Mr Khan told the House of Commons that the Department for Transport is having daily conversations with FCC to ensure a ‘radical improvement’ of the service. If the Department needs to do this, it should take control of the franchise and implement improvements - rather than having to appeal for favours from a profit-driven private firm.’

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