‘Sheer cheek’ of ATOC franchise moans

18 April 2012

ATOC (the Association of Train Operating Companies) has been moaning about delays in issuing new franchises, something that ASLEF’s general secretary says is ‘pretty rich coming from them’.

Mick Whelan says, ‘It takes some cheek for ATOC to moan about the speed of the franchising timetable when First Group gave up the Great Western Franchise three years early - to avoid giving the government £800 million – and National Express have been shortlisted for Great Western and Essex Thameside (C2C) after they made such a pig’s ear of the East Coast franchise that it had to be taken back into public hands two years ago.

‘Obviously the operators are pressing for quicker franchising because they think they aren’t making enough money at the moment. That makes them very special people – because everyone else in the country think they are fleecing us!

‘They’d be tactically better off to be calling for franchises to be delayed so passengers might forget the mess they’ve left in the past!’

At a lecture at the Institution of Civil Engineers, ATOC chairman Tom Smith called for ‘less prescriptive’ franchises, demanding that the government ‘steps back’ from the day to day running of the railways.

He says he wants the government to stop telling train companies ‘what they must do in every last detail’.

‘The operating companies want a free hand to use the railways to make money,’ Mick says. ‘Passengers want something very different – an efficient and reliable national integrated service at an affordable price. To achieve that, we need more central direction, not less.’

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