South Eastern Rail - MP queries costs and profits (January 15th 2008)
North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale, is querying the costs and profits of the Govia subsidiary South Eastern Railways.
In questions appearing on the House of Commons order paper today (Tuesday 15th January) for written answer on Monday the MP seeks information concerning the agreed ceiling for fare increases and the percentage of income for the franchise represented by Government subsidy for each of the last three years.
"In justification for their swingeing increases in the East Kent/London fares South Eastern have indicated that this is due to their franchise with the Government" says the MP. "In fact it is clear from the original Integrated Franchise Briefing Document issued by the Strategic Rail Authority that there were a number of options available to bidders. It looks very much as though given the opportunity to phase fare increases throughout the lifetime of their franchise South Eastern are front-loading the costs to take as much passengers` money as early as possible.
Given that the Company is receiving a considerable sum of money from the taxpayer in addition to its fare income and given GoVia`s not inconsiderable profits I believe that we have a right to know how much of the company's revenue is dependant upon fare increases".
The MP has also questioned the number of passengers that have travelled by EuroStar from Ebbsfleet since the service was inaugurated and whether or not passengers travelling from Ebbsfleet, rather than St. Pancras, find themselves paying a premium.
"Clearly travellers from East Kent are being disadvantaged by the shift of services from Ashford to Ebbsfleet" says the MP. "We need to know whether Ebbsfleet is a success or, as many believe, a White Elephant. As the EuroStar management failed to listen to the representations of Members of Parliament we clearly need to keep a very watchful eye upon the situation."