The Southeastern rail franchise is being taken over by the government after what was described as “a serious breach of the franchise agreement’s good faith obligations” in relation to financial matters was identified.

An investigation conducted by the Department for Transport (DfT) is said to have found that since October 2014, London and Southeastern Railway Limited (LSER), which operates the Southeastern railway had not declared over £25 million of historic taxpayer funding which should have been returned.

Southeastern railway

Southeastern’s shareholders (Go-Ahead and Keolis) commissioned an independent review into this matter on 11th August led by their respective Chairs. Although the independent review is ongoing the Group acknowledges that errors have been made in relation to the franchise.

The company’s Chief Financial Officer, Elodie Brian has decided to resign and will be standing down from the Board with immediate effect.

The Go-Ahead Group’s Chairman, Clare Hollingsworth, said: “We recognise that mistakes have been made and we sincerely apologise to the DfT. We are working constructively with the DfT towards a settlement of this matter.”

The money has now been repaid to the government and further investigations are being conducted by the owning group into all related historic contract issues with the railway franchise. Following these investigations, the government says that it will consider further options for enforcement action.

The franchise was due to be renewed next month, but rather than renewing it, the DfT has decided to transfer it to the government’s in-house Operator of Last Resort (OLR), which already manages the London North Eastern Railway (LNER) and Northern railways.

So from 17th October, Southeastern rail services will be run by the government. As with other franchise takeovers, initially, there will be no changes to fares, tickets or services.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said: “There is clear, compelling and serious evidence that for years, LSER have breached the trust that is absolutely fundamental to the success of our railways. When trust is broken, we will act decisively.”

Further details on how the Operator of Last Resort will manage Southeastern will be set out later this year.

In addition to the commuter and regional services in Southeast London and Kent, Southeastern also operates the HS1 “javelin” services into St Pancras station.

Southeastern franchise map


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  1. Brian Butterworth says:

    I don’t think the HS1 services were called “javelin” past the 2012 service. They certainly don’t use that name on anything I’ve seen and I used the service almost every day.

    • Stuart R says:

      I’m thinking that ‘Javelin’ was the name given to the class 395 rolling stock rather than the service. Possibly more industry-facing than public-facing? Perhaps!

    • ianVisits says:

      Hence the quote marks.

    • David Emmerson says:

      The Javelin name is trademarked – originally owned by the Olympic Delivery Authority and then transferred – can be used by LSER or any successor.

  2. Melvyn says:

    This must increase the chances of some services which largely operates with London or to destinations like Dartford being transferred to TFL to become part of London Overground . I did notice a photo of one of the trains transferred from South West Trains to South Eastern had orange grab rails unless they alway did ?

    • ChrisW says:

      I’d suspect the opposite. I don’t think TfL is very popular with the DfT or vica-versa. And the fact they report to political masters of different parties doesn’t help.

  3. Ric Euteneuer says:

    Shades of Connex who demanded a substantial additional payment from the government to continue the franchise which was later found by forensic accountants to have made its way to plug a huge financial hole elsewhere in the (French) parent group, and resulted in them losing the franchise.

  4. MikeP says:

    How odd that on 3rd August one David Statham, MD of Southeastern for 7 years (he who preferred demanding an apology over a parody of himself to actually addressing issues of erroneous PPR figures) should move across to Go-Ahead as their strategy director, just one week before southeastern started their internal review. I presume his replacement is the fall guy.

  5. RS says:

    Well, lets hope the new logo is nice

  6. Kai Chung says:

    Hold onto your existing Southeastern key cards as they will become collectors items in the future.

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